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Three bat species could be listed as endangered

Three bat species nearly wiped out in Pennsylvania could be added to the state’s endangered list in hopes of recovering their populations in a century.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has agreed to update the state’s list of threatened and endangered species. The board will take a final vote in January.

White-nose syndrome has decimated the northern long-eared bat, tri-colored bat and little brown bat since the disease appeared in Pennsylvania in 2008.

Tri-colored bats and little brown bats are currently being considered for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“We have a species teetering on being federally listed, and we want to prevent that because when they become federally listed, developers have to deal with delays and more stringent regulations,” said Greg Turner, non-game and endangered mammal section supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Com­mission’s North Central region including State College.

“It can take years for permits for a project to get through,” he said.

A state listing allows for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to work with industries that might have projects affected by the presence of endangered or threatened species.

The Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory will continue to review projects for their impact on bats. The change in bats’ status would affect projects only if they’re within 300 meters of a recent maternity roost, hibernacula (a place of refuge, such as a cave) or capture location for threatened or endangered bats. Sites that held these bats prior to the arrival of white-nose syndrome, but not since, won’t affect projects.

The inventory would grow by 34 hibernation sites and 112 maternity sites statewide if the status of the three bat species were changed to endangered.

Turner could not say how many of those sites would be located in Blair County.

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