Thursday, February 18, 2021

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Game Commission, DCNR Finalize Bat Conservation Plan Covering 3.8 Million Acres Of State-Managed Lands

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Game Commission and DCNR's Bureaus of Forestry and State Parks recently finalized the
State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan for Bats to conserve federally protected Indiana and northern long-eared bats on 3.8 million acres of state-managed lands. 

As bats in Pennsylvania continue to recover from the deadly disease white-nose syndrome and other threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Game Commission, and DCNR are working together to conserve federally protected Indiana and northern long-eared bats on state-managed lands, while streamlining the review of future forestry projects.

“Conserving, managing, and improving Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat habitat is important in Pennsylvania, as bats play a critical role within the state and in forested ecosystems,” said DCNR Bureau of Forestry Director Ellen M. Shultzabarger. “This habitat conservation plan allows DCNR and the Pa. Game Commission to plan at a larger scale across state lands to allow for more effective management of forests and improved conservation of these bat species.”

Forests managed by the Game Commission and DCNR provide important habitat for bats to forage, roost, raise young, mate and prepare for hibernation.

The agencies have prepared a habitat conservation plan (HCP) outlining how they will continue to maintain at least 3.5 million acres of various aged forest while managing a portion of the remaining acres through timber harvest and prescribed fire. 

Basic forest management practices that improve forest health and productivity can also maintain and enhance habitats for bats, as well as other wildlife. Forest management can ensure that bats have access to dead and dying trees for roosting.

Prescribed fire and thinning can open flight space and increase plant growth that boosts insect numbers for their diets. Maintaining healthy forests and vegetation along waterways helps keep water clean for drinking and also boosts insect populations. 

The Game Commission and DCNR estimate that forest management will annually improve habitat on more than 35,000 acres for Indiana bats and more than 151,000 acres for northern long-eared bats.

The species use different habitats for various activities, with some habitats used by both species and some that do not overlap. 

Click Here for a copy of the final Bat Conservation Plan and supporting documents.

Visit the Game Commission’s State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan for Bats webpage for more information.   Questions should be directed to Tracey Librandi Mumma, Game Commission at or Rebecca Bowen, DCNR at  

Visit the Game Commission’s Bats webpage for more information on this species.

(Reprinted mostly from DCNR’s Feb. 17 Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

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[Posted: February 18, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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