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ND'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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota and across the country. Photo credit: University of Illinois/Steve Taylor/Flickr.
May 4, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – New protections are now in place for the northern long-earned bat, which officially becomes listed as a threatened species in North Dakota 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 Ryan Moehring, North Dakota spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"White-nose syndrome is a fungus that is really devastating northern long-eared bat and other bat species populations across the country,” he adds. “So it is a pervasive fungal disease for which we have yet to identify a cure."

White-nose syndrome was first reported in the eastern U.S. in 2006 and has since spread to 26 states. That does not yet include North Dakota, although the fungus that causes the disease has been found as far west as Minnesota.

Moehring notes that these protections are vital as bats are very important ecologically.

"They maintain a really integral insect-predator-prey balance,” he explains. “So, essentially, bats eat a lot of the insects that are nuisance species to human beings and they're very important economically, especially to farmers. They eat a lot of the insects that are problematic for crops."

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 - ND