Canada Adds Three Bat Species to Endangered List

December 18, 2014 / Canada, North America
Little Brown Bat with White-nose Syndrome.

Little Brown Bat with White-nose Syndrome. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Canadian Government announced yesterday that three bat species have been added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) and the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) have all been listed as endangered, the most powerful designation, which protects species and their habitats on federal land.

Long in the works, this decision comes following a November 2013 re-examination by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) of their initial February 2012 emergency assessment. That assessment determined that rapid spread of White-nose Syndrome and associated evidence of population collapse was strong enough that it posed a serious and imminent threat to the survival of each of the species.

Since first being discovered in south-western Quebec and central and north-eastern Ontario in early 2010, the disease has now been confirmed in five Canadian provinces, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The new listing prohibits anyone from the killing, harming, or harassing and/or the damage or destruction to the residence of any bats on federal land, which includes protected areas, migratory birds sanctuaries, national wildlife areas, national parks, etc, as well as the prohibition of collecting, buying, selling or trading of any part of one of these species.

As visiting a bat hibernaculum in the winter could be construed as harassment, and visitation of a cave with contaminated gear could harm bats, cavers must take steps to ensure they familiarize themselves with and adhere to the new policies. For instance, in cases where there is a risk of a contravention of the listing people visiting caves would need to apply for a permit.

Thankfully, plenty of helpful guides have been released along with the announcement to make the transition easier.

In addition, we are quite happy to see the Canadian Government recognize the efforts of cavers, going as far to note in the official order “that many caving and speleological organizations already take and promote voluntary measures to reduce the spread of the fungus responsible for WNS.”

Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act [Canada Gazette]

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