Volume 37, Issue 2, 2018

A Historic Moment

First-ever delisting of a bat from endangered status


Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) feeds on
pollen from an agave blossom.
Courtesy of Bruce D. Taubert

Every year, April 17 marks Bat Appreciation Day—a celebration of bats and the critical role they play for the planet. This year, there was an extra special reason to celebrate—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) had recovered to the point of being removed from the U.S. endangered species list. This marks the first time a bat species has been delisted due to recovery.

The lesser long-nosed bat was first listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1988, when less than 1,000 individuals at 14 known roosting sites were identified. Today, there are an estimated 200,000 individuals at 75 known roost locations in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico. Dr. Rodrigo Medellín, a senior professor at the Instituto de Ecología, UNAM, as well as a member of BCI’s scientific advisory committee, spearheaded recovery efforts in Mexico, where the species was removed from Mexico’s equivalent of the endangered species list in 2015.

“The story of the lesser long-nosed bat shows that conservation and science can work together to provide species the chance to recover and persist,” says Winifred Frick, BCI’s Chief Scientist. “Scientists and conservation groups in both Mexico and the U.S. have worked together over the years toward recovering these bats; it’s an exciting success story for collaborative conservation efforts and the Endangered Species Act.”

BCI is proud to work alongside partners to create positive change for this and other imperiled bat species across the U.S. and abroad. Roost disturbance and destruction are the primary threats to the lesser long-nosed bat. BCI’s Subterranean Team has been instrumental in identifying new roost sites, working closely with federal and private partners to ensure habitat protection.

“After working with this species for close to 20 years, working with a cadre of dedicated professionals on the delisting efforts and putting my heart and soul into seeing this bat recovered, I am filled with nothing but joy at the news of this magnificent creature coming off of the U.S. endangered species list,” remarks Jason Corbett, Director of BCI’s Subterranean Program.

It is critical to recognize that delisting a species does not mean removal of its protection. While this news certainly represents a win for bat conservation, BCI will work closely with partners to assist in the monitoring of the species post-delisting, ensuring that this bat continues on its recovery trajectory.

 

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