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Protection of Northern Long-eared Bats

Protective Measures Required for Northern Long-eared Bats When Projects Occur within Occupied Habitat

Background

The USFWS has the authority to write special rules and exemptions for threatened species under section 4(d) of the federal Endangered Species Act. These rules are referred to as "4(d) rules." On January 14, 2016, USFWS issued a Final 4(d) Rule for the Northern long-eared bat (NLEB), imposing a number of specific conservation measures. Purposefully harming NLEB remains prohibited except in defense of human health and safety.

In contrast, most incidental take (defined as impacts to the species from otherwise legal activities) is allowed without the need for a federal permit with the following specific exceptions:

  • All incidental take within known hibernacula is prohibited;
  • Incidental take resulting from tree removal within a 0.25 mile buffer around known occupied northern long-eared bat hibernacula or within a 150-foot buffer around known occupied maternity roost trees during the pup season (June 1 through July 31).

On April 27, 2016, USFWS announced its determination that it would not designate critical habitat for the NLEB because "Northern long-eared bat summer habitat is not limited or in short supply and summer habitat loss is not a range-wide threat to the species."

Guidance from DEC

The Department concurs with the conclusion of the USFWS that the NLEB population decline is not the result of habitat loss. However, because the State endangered species law and its implementing regulations require consideration of impacts to occupied habitat of listed species, the Department is requiring additional conditions on tree cutting in order to protect any bats that may be roosting in the trees in the vicinity of the hibernacula and documented summer occurrences. Therefore, in addition to the requirements of USFWS Final 4(d) Rule for the NLEB, all forest management activities must comply with the following conditions in areas of known occupied habitat. Forest management activities that incorporate the following requirements do not need a permit from the Department under 6 NYCRR Part 182 because cutting of live trees under the prescribed conditions is unlikely to result in an incidental take of NLEB.

How to Proceed with Projects

Requirements for projects within NLEB occupied habitat (e.g. located within 5 miles of a known hibernation site or 1.5 miles of a documented summer occurrence see map of known locations) vary depending on the type of project proposed. Projects can be split into two major types:

Requirements for Projects that Result in a Change of Land Use within NLEB Occupied Habitat

Projects that are intended to convert forested habitat to other uses have a greater impact on NLEB than projects that allow for the regeneration and retention of forest habitat on the landscape. This is because even though trees are not currently a limiting resource for NLEB, the species also uses forest habitat of all types for feeding. NLEB will use regenerating forest for foraging habitat within the same year that cuts are implemented. However, when forest habitat is lost from the landscape because the land is converted to another use, these areas no longer provide any benefit to NLEB.

For projects requiring tree removal to convert forest habitat to another land use between April 1 and October 31 that are within 5 miles of an occupied hibernaculum or 1.5 miles of a documented summer occurrence, the following recommendations must be followed unless a permit is obtained from the Department.

November 1 to March 31

During this period of time, the NLEB are inactive and are within the hibernation sites.

  • No cutting of any trees may occur within the ¼ mile buffer around a hibernation site.
  • No activities that may result in disturbance to a hibernation site including, but not limited to, actions that would alter the hydrology, increase noise or introduce fill may occur.
    • Please note that if you plan any development or tree clearing activities within ¼ mile of a hibernation area for NLEB, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the DEC.
  • For cutting of trees outside of the ¼ mile buffer around hibernacula:
    • No restrictions, with the following voluntary measures recommended:
      • Leave uncut all known and documented roost trees, and any trees within a 150 foot radius of a documented summer occurrence.
      • Leave uncut all snag and cavity trees unless their removal is necessary for protection of human life and property. For the purposes of this guidance, protection of human life and property includes removal of trees that, if not removed, could result in the loss of electric service. Snag and cavity trees are defined under DEC Program Policy ONR-DLF-2 Retention on State Forests.
April 1 to October 31

During this period of time, NLEB are active and are within the forested landscape. The following restrictions are required unless a permit is obtained from the DEC:

  • No cutting of any trees may occur within the ¼ mile buffer around a hibernaculum.
    • Please note that if you plan any tree clearing activities within ¼ mile of a hibernation area for NLEB, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC.
  • For cutting of trees in occupied NLEB habitat outside of the ¼ mile buffer around hibernacula or within 1.5 miles of a summer occurrence:
    • The following are restrictions that must be followed for forest management activities at this time of year:
      • Leave uncut all snag and cavity trees unless their removal is necessary for protection of human life and property. For the purposes of this guidance, protection of human life and property includes removal of trees that, if not removed, could result in the loss of electric service. Snag and cavity trees are defined under DEC Program Policy ONR-DLF-2 Retention on State Forests.
      • Leave uncut all known and documented roost trees, and any trees within a 150 foot radius of a documented summer occurrence.
        • Please note that if you plan any tree clearing activities within 150 ft of a summer occurrence for NLEB during June or July, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC.
      • If any bats are observed flying from a tree, or on a tree that has been cut, forestry activities in the area should be suspended and DEC Wildlife staff notified as soon as possible.

If a project cannot follow the restrictions above, a permit from DEC under Part 182 would be required. Applications for incidental take permits are handled by regional Division of Environmental Permits offices. To be eligible for a permit, the project proponent must be able to demonstrate a net conservation benefit to NLEB as a result of their action. For information on how to apply, contact your regional DEC permit administrator.

This guidance is only intended to address NLEB protective measures. Additional regulations may apply to the land, including wetland and stream protection regulations and protective measures for other federal or state endangered species that may be present. Regional DEC staff in Division of Environmental Permits can help determine if any of these restrictions apply to the property and project in question.

Requirements for Projects That Do Not Result in a Change of Land Use within NLEB Occupied Habitat

November 1 to March 31

During this period of time, the NLEB are inactive and are within the hibernacula.

  • No cutting of any trees may occur inside of the ¼ mile buffer around a hibernaculum.
    • Please note that if any tree clearing activities are required within ¼ mile of a hibernation area for NLEB, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
April 1 to October 31

During this period of time, the NLEB are active and will be found outside the hibernacula.

  • Within 5 miles of known hibernacula or within 150' of documented summer occurrence the following cutting restrictions apply:
    • Leave uncut all snag and cavity trees unless their removal is necessary for protection of human life and property. For the purposes of this guidance, protection of human life and property includes removal of trees that, if not removed, could result in the loss of electric service. Snag and cavity trees are defined under DEC Program Policy ONR-DLF-2 Retention on State Forests.
    • Leave uncut all known and documented roost trees, and any trees within a 150 foot radius of a documented summer occurrence.
      • Please note that if you plan any tree clearing activities within 150 ft of a summer occurrence for NLEB during June or July, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
    • If any bats are observed flying from a tree, or on a tree that has been cut, forestry activities in the area should be suspended and DEC Wildlife staff notified as soon as possible.
  • Within a ¼ mile of a hibernaculum, leave all trees uncut unless their removal is necessary for protection of human life and property.
    • Please note that if any tree clearing activities are required within ¼ mile of a hibernation area for NLEB, you may be required to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

If a project cannot follow by the restrictions above, a permit from DEC under Part 182 would be required. Applications for incidental take permits are handled by regional Division of Environmental Permits offices. To be eligible for a permit, the project proponent must be able to demonstrate a net conservation benefit to NLEB as a result of their action. For information on how to apply, contact your regional DEC permit administrator.

This guidance is only intended to address NLEB protective measures. Additional regulations may apply to the land, including wetland and stream protection regulations and protective measures for other federal or state endangered species that may be present. Regional DEC staff in Division of Environmental Permits can help determine if any of these restrictions apply to the property and project in question.

Northern Long-eared Bat Occurrences by Town

Data accurate as of May 5th, 2016

Northern Long-eared Bat Occurrences by Town
County Town Winter Summer
Albany Guilderland Yes
Knox Yes
New Scotland Yes
Allegany Belfast Yes
Caneadea Yes
New Hudson Yes
Cattaraugus Franklinville Yes
Little Valley Yes
Lyndon Yes
Mansfield Yes
New Albion Yes
Cayuga Ledyard Yes
Chautauqua Chautauqua Yes
Ellington Yes
Clinton Ausable Yes
Black Brook Yes
Columbia Ancram Yes
Canaan Yes
Erie Collins Yes
Newstead Yes
Essex Crown Point Yes
Elizabethtown Yes
Minerva Yes
Moriah Yes
Ticonderoga Yes
Westport Yes
Franklin Bellmont Yes
Greene Catskill Yes
Hamilton Indian Lake Yes
Jefferson Alexandria Yes
Brownville Yes
Champion Yes
Clayton Yes
Le Ray Yes
Watertown Yes Yes
Lewis Denmark Yes
Diana Yes
Livingston Portage Yes
Montgomery Root Yes
Onondaga Clay Yes
De Witt Yes
Geddes Yes
Lysander Yes
Orange Blooming Grove Yes
Highlands Yes
Tuxedo Yes
Warwick Yes
Woodbury Yes Yes
Putnam Putnam Valley Yes
Southeast Yes
Rensselaer Berlin Yes
Saratoga Greenfield Yes
Schoharie Carlisle Yes
Cobleskill Yes
Schoharie Yes
Wright Yes
Schulyer Hector Yes
Steuben Caton Yes
Lindley Yes
Tuscarora Yes
Suffolk Brookhaven Yes
Sullivan Manmakating Yes
Ulster Kingston Yes
Rosendale Yes
Warren Hague Yes
Washington Dresden Yes
Fort Ann Yes