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December 28, 2014
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Protecting bats, birds and fish; A legislative battle over endangered species

One Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to designate some species of bats as endangered because their ranks have been seriously reduced due to white nose syndrome.But proposed legislation would make it more difficult for species to be listed as endangered.
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ESCA would also provide for an appeals process after a state agency determines that a species is endangered. Pyle said the legislation came in reaction to a proposed school building project in his district that was located in a habitat that contained an endangered species of bat. With no pathway for appealing the designation, the building chose to pay $61,000 to a conservation fund, rather than to abandon the project or be forced to find a new home for the bats.

“No one questions the ability of a government agency to render a decision, or the possibility of a species being in danger,” Pyle added. “I am simply asking every agency empowered with the ability to carry out an action that in this case has the potential to significantly impact the economy of a community, to have a second set of eyes review the decisions it makes.”

Any species currently listed as threatened or endangered would be required to go through the IRRC process within two years of the effective date of House Bill 1576, in order to justify its continued designation of that species. McCarter says the IRRC process would hand the control of the issues to people who are not necessarily focused on the welfare of the animals and plants in question. He said, “Allowing nonscientific bureaucrats and politicians veto power over the endangered species list would inevitably slow down efforts to protect these species. These unnecessary bureaucratic changes would make it increasingly difficult to protect Pennsylvania’s native species and begs the question, to what end?”