Northern Long-Eared Bat: NY Harvesting Restrictions

The northern long-eared bat population has declined as a result of the white-nosed syndrome.  Although forest harvesting does not impact the bat or habitat per se, felling a tree where a bat is located or disturbing a hibernaculum would be problematic.  There are both state and federal regulations that apply.

Here is communication from NYSDEC on May 5 2016

"As you may know, the northern long eared bat (NLEB) has been listed by the USFWS as threatened due to declines as a result of white nose syndrome.  The FWS has also issued a 4(d) regulation that enables certain forestry practices to continue.

 NYS Part 182 regulations for the protection of endangered species also apply. DEC restrictions are less flexible than a threatened status under the federal law so we have some additional restrictions beyond the 4(d) rule.

Attached is guidance on how DEC will be protecting NLEB under Part 182, as well as maps indicating known roost trees and hibernaculum.  Please note that these restrictions related to cutting trees are not intended to protect NLEB habitat; loss of habitat is not an issue for NLEB survival and most normal forestry practices are not the issue.  The restrictions are intended to protect any bats that may be in the trees and would potentially be harmed by the cutting of that tree. Hence, the focus on snag and cavity trees, which are the likely roosting locations, and lesser restrictions during the time of year the bats are in hibernation.  "


Some of the cutting restrictions apply to snag and cavity trees.  The definition of a snag / cavity tree are at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/policysfrention.pdf ;

Cavity Tree – Live or dead tree with excavations sufficient for wildlife nesting, denning and shelter.

Snag – A standing dead tree that is at least 20’ tall (DeGraff and Shigo, 1985).

Links to documents are below...

Map of current occupied sites (one page)

Map and list of towns with winter and summer use (three pages)

Forest harvesting restrictions (two pages)

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Comment by Peter Smallidge on May 6, 2016 at 3:08pm

Some clarification from NYSDEC.  My questions in bold, responses in italics...

  1. The document on forestry guidance makes reference to “known” roost trees.  How does an owner or forester assess and designate a tree as a “known” roost tree?  There are very few known NLEB roost trees in NY because the bat has not been surveyed for statewide with the purpose of identifying roost trees.   Generally known roost trees are found by surveys rather than owners or foresters finding them.  If an owner or forester think they have identified a roost tree they could contact DEC Fish and Wildlife and the tree could then possibly be added to the known roost tree map.  This sort of thing rarely happens.  Basically the term “known” is used to let an owner or forester know that unless a tree has officially been ID’d as a roost tree (therefore “known”), they don’t have to worry about all other trees on the property in terms of the regulation guidance.
  2. Is there a way to know the specific location of a hibernaculum within a town?  A generalized location can be found using DEC’s Environmental Mapping tool available on-line: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/38801.html  If a precise location is sought, one would contact the State Natural Heritage Program and work with someone there.  
  3. Will DEC or USFWS notify the owners whose properties include summer and winter structures?  No, it is the responsibility of the owner or their agent to search the mapping tool indicated above if undertaking a harvest or other project that disturbs forest to see if there are any “known” summer and winter structures nearby.  If it is discovered that there may be a structure on their property, the owner should than be contacting the Natural Heritage Program. 

Is it safe to assume that, with safety exceptions noted [safety exceptions as noted in the 2-page forest harvesting restrictions above]:

  • if a town is not listed as summer or winter habitat, then no restrictions apply?  Correct, if you’re not near a known roost tree or hibernaculum then the regulations do not apply.
  • If a town is listed as “winter” then cutting restrictions apply November 1 to March 31?  Correct
  • If a town is listed as “summer” then cutting restrictions apply April 1 to October 31?  Correct

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