WUOMFM

Congressman Benishek: Slow down rule-making process for threatened bats

Mar 5, 2015

A bat with white-nose syndrome.
Credit wikipedia

A Michigan Congressman is cautioning a federal agency to be careful how it goes about creating rules to protect a certain type of bat.

Congressman Dan Benishek (R), who represents Northern Michigan’s first district, is concerned the US Fish and Wildlife Service could name the northern long-eared bat a threatened species—and that could place an “undue economic burden” on affected areas.

Benishek sent a letter to the USFWS director this week, asking the agency to extend the public comment period on possible new protections for the bat, and to hold more public hearings. The current deadline is March 17.

The letter is co-signed by 20 other members of Congress, including five House Republicans from Michigan.

Benishek says there is legitimate cause for concern about white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease killing millions of North American bats. “We just want to be sure that the rules are reasonable,” he says. “We’re not even sure it’s human activity that’s causing the problem with the bats.”

“It would certainly be a severe concern if we lose this bat species. But we want to see if we can solve the problem in a logical, scientific fashion—and be sure that people who are really affected by this rule have a chance to provide input.”

Benishek says he’s particularly concerned about possible impacts on timber, agriculture and other industries in Northern Michigan that could be affected by a new designation.