Beef Buzz News
New Potential Listing Under Endangered Species Act to Cause More Regulatory Burden for ProducersMon, 13 Jun 2022 10:20:45 CDT
Senior Farm and Ranch Director, Ron Hays, features comments from Associate Director of Federal Lands for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Sigrid Johannes. Johannes talks about the Northern Long-Eared Bat, a species currently listed as threatened. The Biden Administration's Fish and Wildlife Service is pushing to list the species as endangered in 37 states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and more. Johannes talks about why listing this species as endangered will bring an excessive regulatory burden for agricultural producers in these states.
The Biden Administration's Fish and Wildlife Service, Johannes said, has just gone through a comment period where NCBA offered strong objections to the endangered species listing for many reasons.
"The Northern Long-Eared Bat is declining in numbers due to a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome," Johannes said. "It impacts many species of bats."
White-nose syndrome, Johannes said, is not something new and has been studied quite a bit. This disease, Johannes added, is not caused by humans and is not being spread through agriculture and resource-using activities, which the listing would prohibit.
"White-nose syndrome impacts bats when they are hibernating in caves," Johannes said, "but the listing would put restrictions on forest management activities that take place in the other half of the year, April to November, when bats are roosting in trees."
Johannes said the range of the species identified in the proposed listing is 37 states. Oklahoma is one of those states- as well as neighboring Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.
"That is another area where we raised some objections because that is including many states where there is actually no documented population of northern long-eared bats," Johannes said.
Unnecessarily including such a wide range of states in the proposal, Johannes said, catches areas in a wide net of regulation. Another big reason why NCBA objected to the proposal, she added, was because there are many issues with the forest implications, and particularly the wildfire implications of this kind of listing.
"The proposed rule would prohibit tree clearing from April to November of any forb, shrub, or tree that has a diameter greater than three inches at breast height," Johannes said. "That includes pretty much every plant you are going to find in a mature forest."
Regulating the clearing of land is a significant problem when it comes to reducing wildfire risk and fire fuels. Everything from clearing trees on a fence line to clearing trees for a construction project will be prohibited due to the potential disruption to bats that may roost in those territories.
The bottom line, Johannes said, is that the "one size fits all" concept the Federal Government wants to implement doesn't do a good job of regulating the species and taking care of stakeholders. It is better to let the states manage a lot of these species instead of letting the Federal Government do it.
"The crux of our argument hasn't really changed, and it really boils down to is that states are the ones best positioned to appropriately manage wildlife species," Johannes said. "When you have a federal listing, and you have either a threatened or endangered designation under the Endangered Species Act, it puts into place a lot of one-size-fits-all restrictions across the range of the species that don't yield good results for producers on the ground."
These broad restrictions don't yield the best results for the species, Johannes said, and they don't help conserve habitat in a meaningful way.
"All of that work tends to happen on a voluntary basis, on the ground, led by local stakeholders and communities, and that's what we want to see happen in every case where there is a wildlife situation that needs to be managed," Johannes said.
To read more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal for the Northern-Long Eared bat, click here.
Click the LISTEN BAR below to listen to NCBA's Sigrid Johannes on the Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an endangered species in 37 states.
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