For Immediate Release, February 12, 2020

Contact:

Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org
Joe Barros, Tropical Audubon Society, (305) 951 6167, jfjbarros@gmail.com

Beloved Florida Bat to Gain Protected Habitat

Bat Habitat Highly Vulnerable to Sea-level Rise

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— As the result of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to protect critical habitat for Florida bonneted bats.

Pesticides and habitat destruction, mainly due to urban sprawl, caused the bats’ precipitous decline. Remaining populations are now severely threatened by sea-level rise, as well.

“We can’t save these bats without protecting the places where they live,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “Florida bonneted bats, spectacular ears and all, are a remarkable part of Florida’s natural heritage and give us valuable services like pest control.”

Under today’s agreement the agency must propose protected habitat for the bat by Aug. 13, 2020. The protection will require agencies that fund or permit projects in the bat’s habitat to consult with the Service to ensure the area is not damaged. Species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery as species without it.

Florida bonneted bats roost in old tree cavities and artificial structures, foraging for insects over open spaces like wetlands and open fresh water. There are 26 known colonies of bats located in 11 different roost sites in South Florida. With just 1 foot of sea-level rise, four of these roost sites will be inundated. Up to 6 feet of sea-level rise are expected by the end of this century, and nine roost sites are expected to be inundated.

“This agreement will allow this unique Floridian bat to come out from the brink of extinction and move towards recovery by increasing its resilience,” said Joe Barros, president of the Tropical Audubon Society. “The protection of this habitat will also contribute to the conservation of threatened birds species and others in peril."

The Center, Tropical Audubon Society and the North American Butterfly Association’s Miami Blue Chapter filed suit in October 2018 seeking protection for the bonneted bat.

Learn more about the Florida bonneted bat.

Florida_Bonneted_Bat_Kathleen_Smith_Florida_Fish_and_Wildlife_Conservation_Commission_FPWC_commerical_use_ok.jpg
Florida Bonneted Bat, courtesy of Kathleen Smith, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.