FCC Provides Updated Guidance on the Protection of the Northern Long-Eared Bat

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The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) has provided updated guidance for the environmental review of the northern long-eared bat for tower construction due to the reclassification by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In November of 2022, the FWS adopted a final rule reclassifying the northern long-eared bat from a threatened to endangered species. As the final rule becomes effective on January 30, 2023, the current Streamlined Framework for environmental review of the northern long-eared bat becomes null and void. The Bureau notifies applicants that for any proposed project or project in preconstruction status as of this effective date, they must re-consult with the FWS. Because the bat population has been diminished by the widespread deadly white nose syndrome, a fungal disease affecting cave-dwelling bats’ muzzles, ears and wings, the FWS has stated that human activities that were not significant before may be so now. The FCC directs applicants to consult with FWS resources at FWS Questions and Answers and the applicant’s local FWS field office to determine how to proceed with the consultation process for any project affected by the final rule to ensure continued ESA compliance.

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