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January 22, 2015

Emergency Listing Order under SARA to Protect Bat Populations will Have Impacts for Energy, Mining and Other Industries

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In response to the catastrophic decline in Canadian bat populations, an Emergency Listing Order under the Species at Risk Act was published in the December 17, 2014 edition of Canada Gazette Part II.

The Order, lists three bat species - the "Little Brown," "Northern" and "Tricoloured" as "endangered" in Schedule 1 of SARA. Since 2010, what was once likely Canada’s most widespread and common bat, the Little Brown Myotis, has declined by 94% from Nova Scotia to Ontario. The Northern Myotis is also estimated to have suffered a similar 94% decline in the eastern part of its Canadian range, while the Tri-colored Bat is estimated to have declined by over 75%.

The declines - considered by some experts to be the most rapid decline of mammals ever documented anywhere - are due to a fungus which grows on these species of bats while they hibernate causing a disease known as White-nose Syndrome (WNS). Scientists predict that, without additional restorative actions, all three bat species will face extirpation.

While not directly applicable, the order will impact some municipal projects, most notably bridge construction, especially during breeding season, since bats tend to roost on the underside of bridges. There are also general provisions for habitat protection under SARA, so members should be aware of the order when getting permits for upcoming work, especially if the area in question contains forested areas or caves.


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