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New Agreement Will Help Protect Endangered Bat Habitats

A new agreement between federal and state governments aims to protect endangered Indiana Bats that spend part of the year in Kentucky's forests.In the agreement, the Kentucky Division of Forestry will take the Indiana Bat into account when it manages the more than 43,000 acres of state forest land.Indiana Bats have been on the nation’s endangered species list since 1967. In recent years, they’ve become increasingly vulnerable due to White Nose Syndrome—a fungal disease that’s fatal to bats.Lee Andrews is the supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kentucky Field Office. He says the agreement won’t require the Division of Forestry to change very much about what it already does.“It really isn’t going to stop any forest management actions, so to speak,” he said. “But what it does is it causes the Division of Forestry to take a real hard look at what they propose to do relative to Indiana Bats and to ensure that the management actions are done in the best possible way.”Andrews says maintaining the state’s bat population is important—and the animal’s insectivorous diet helps Kentucky.“They’re paying a public service every night they fly and eat these insects they’re helping reduce disease vectors and also helping our agricultural crops,” he said.There are about 424,000 Indiana Bats left in the United States, and about 70,000 of them spend some time in Kentucky.

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