The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put the northern long-eared bat on the “threatened” species list. The agency stopped short of saying the species is in danger of being wiped out by white-nose bat syndrome. The fungus has already killed millions of bats across the country.
Dan Kennedy is an endangered species expert with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says the decision gives state wildlife officials more time to plan while the bats hibernate.
“We want to continue to focus on solving the white-nose syndrome fungus issue, but also, we want to leave them alone where they over-winter, because that’s really key to their survival,” he says.
Bats play a critical environmental role by controlling insects. The threat posed by white nose syndrome could upset that balance.
Kennedy says most of the bats in Michigan are hibernating in remote, abandoned mines in the western Upper Peninsula.
There could be some restrictions on logging and tree thinning in summer months in areas where young bats are roosting.