The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to change the classification of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Reclassifying the NLEB will have major implications for development projects throughout the U.S., particularly in wind energy development.
The FWS classifies a species as threatened when the species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future in all or a portion of its range. A species is endangered when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Due to the fungal disease white-nose syndrome, the NLEB has experienced a steep decline in population across its 37-state range, which includes Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In 2015, the FWS classified the NLEB as threatened due to the decline in population, and issued an ESA Section 4(d) rule allowing an incidental “take” of NLEB subject to certain conditions.
In 2020, under court order, the