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Iowa's Northern Long-Eared Bats Now on Threatened List

PHOTO: With a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome decimating its numbers, the northern long-eared bat today officially becomes listed as a threatened species in Iowa and across the country. Photo credit: University of Illinois/Steve Taylor/Flickr.
PHOTO: With a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome decimating its numbers, the northern long-eared bat today officially becomes listed as a threatened species in Iowa and across the country. Photo credit: University of Illinois/Steve Taylor/Flickr.
May 4, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – New protections now are in place for the northern long-earned bat, which officially becomes listed as a threatened species in Iowa and across the nation as of today.

The listing comes in the wake of a deadly disease called white-nose syndrome that's killed more than 6 million bats, says Kristen Lundh, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Bats with white-nose syndrome act strangely,” she explains. “They fly outside of their winter hibernacula during the day and then they cluster in colder areas near the entrance of the hibernacula. Bats with white-nose syndrome have been shown to have depleted fat stores by midwinter and they can get very severe wing damage."

White-nose syndrome was first reported in the eastern U.S. in 2006 and has since spread to bats in 26 states, including Iowa.

Lundh notes that these protections are vital as bats are important ecologically.

"They eat insects like mosquitoes and insects that damage crops,” she points out. “So bats are important for those of us that don't like mosquitoes, but also really important for agriculture.

“As an example, the little brown bat, which we have here in Iowa, can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes a night and that is also a bat that is being impacted by white-nose syndrome."

Also effective today is an interim rule that provides some flexibility to landowners, land managers, government agencies and others as they conduct development activities in northern long-eared bat habitat.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA