International Bat Pact to Help Coordinate Conservation

By Colleen Hartel

Bat Image credit: Gary Peeples, USFWS

The U.S., Canada, and Mexico signed a formal agreement to coordinate efforts to protect migratory bats as part of the annual meeting of the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management.

Growing concern over the spread of white-nose syndrome, which has now been confirmed in 26 states and killed over 5.7 million bats since 2006, and the migratory nature of bats has led to an increasing need to implement cooperative bat protection efforts across international borders.

“Wildlife sees no passports, and wildlife sees no borders,” said Canadian Minister of the Environment, Leona Aglukkaq, in a recent interview. “So how we deal with species at risk has to be thinking outside the box.”

The letter of intent aims to increase cooperative bat conservation efforts from all three countries.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently issued new regulations for one North American bat species primarily impacted by white-nose syndrome, the northern long-eared bat, by listing the species as endangered. The listing provides some provisions for accidental take due to timber and energy production activities but is stricter in areas where white-nose syndrome has been confirmed.

Bats are important components of natural ecosystems. FWS estimates that bats save the U.S. at least $3 billion annually in pesticide and other crop protection measures by eating insects that can damage agricultural products.

While the countries have worked together under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for almost 80 years, until now no formal agreement had existed for bats.

Source: Greenwire (April 16, 2015), CBC News (April 26, 2015)

Colleen Hartel is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

Read more of Colleen's articles.