[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 191 (Wednesday, October 2, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61003-61043]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23401]



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Vol. 78

Wednesday,

No. 191

October 2, 2013

Part II





 Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for the Florida Bonneted Bat; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2012-0078; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY15


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for the Florida Bonneted Bat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determine endangered 
species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, 
for the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), a bat species from 
south Florida. This final rule adds this species to the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and implements the Federal 
protections provided by the Act for this species.

DATES: This rule is effective November 1, 2013.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov and at the South Florida Ecological Services Field 
Office. Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this rule, are available for public 
inspection at http://www.regulations.gov and by appointment, during 
normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida 
Ecological Services Field Office, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 
32960-3559; telephone 772-562-3909; facsimile 772-562-4288.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Williams, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES section). If you use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) 
at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    This rule lists the Florida bonneted bat as an endangered species 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. We intend 
to publish a separate rule proposing designation of critical habitat 
for the Florida bonneted bat in the near future.
    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species or 
subspecies may warrant protection through listing if it is endangered 
or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 
Listing a species as endangered or threatened can only be completed by 
issuing a rule. On October 4, 2012, we published a proposed rule to 
list the Florida bonneted bat as an endangered species (77 FR 60750). 
After careful consideration of all public and peer reviewer comments we 
received, we are publishing this final rule to list the Florida 
bonneted bat as an endangered species.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, a species may be 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species based on any of 
five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, 
or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. We have determined that the Florida bonneted bat 
is an endangered species based on three of these five factors (Factors 
A, D, and E). Specifically, habitat loss, degradation, and modification 
from human population growth and associated development and agriculture 
have impacted the Florida bonneted bat and are expected to further 
curtail its limited range (Factor A). The effects resulting from 
climate change, including sea-level rise and coastal squeeze, are 
expected to become severe in the future and result in additional 
habitat losses, including the loss of roost sites and foraging habitat 
(Factor A). The Florida bonneted bat is also facing threats from a wide 
array of natural and manmade factors (Factor E), including small 
population size, restricted range, few colonies, slow reproduction, low 
fecundity, and relative isolation. Existing regulatory mechanisms 
(Factor D) are inadequate to reduce these threats. Overall, impacts 
from increasing threats, operating singly or in combination, place the 
species at risk of extinction.
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We received responses from six 
peer reviewers. Peer reviewers generally concurred with the basis for 
listing the Florida bonneted bat and provided additional information, 
clarifications, and suggestions to improve this final listing 
determination. We considered all comments and information we received 
during the public comment period.

Previous Federal Actions

    The Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) was previously known 
as the Florida mastiff bat (Eumops glaucinus floridanus).
    Federal actions for the Florida bonneted bat prior to October 4, 
2012, are outlined in our proposed rule (77 FR 60750), which was 
published on that date. Publication of the proposed rule (77 FR 60750) 
opened a 60-day comment period, which closed on December 3, 2012.
    Our proposed rule also included a finding that designation of 
critical habitat was prudent, but that critical habitat was not 
determinable. Under the Act, the Service has 2 years from the date of 
the proposed listing to designate critical habitat. Accordingly, we 
intend to publish a separate rule proposing designation of critical 
habitat for the Florida bonneted bat in the near future.

Background

    The Florida bonneted bat is a member of the Molossidae (free-tailed 
bats) family within the order Chiroptera. The species is the largest 
bat in Florida (Owre 1978, p. 43; Belwood 1992, p. 216; Florida Bat 
Conservancy [FBC] 2005, p. 1). Males and females are not significantly 
different in size, and there is no pattern of size-related geographic 
variation in this species (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 857).
    Members of the genus Eumops have large, rounded pinnae (ears), 
arising from a single point or joined medially on the forehead (Best et 
al. 1997, p. 1). The common name of ``bonneted bat'' originates from 
characteristic large broad ears, which project forward over the eyes 
(FBC 2005, p. 1). Ears are joined at the midline of the head. This 
feature, along with its large size, distinguishes the Florida bonneted 
bat from the smaller Brazilian (=Mexican) free-tailed bat (Tadarida 
brasiliensis).
    Wings of the members of the genus Eumops are among the narrowest of 
all molossids (Freeman 1981, as cited in Best et al. 1997, p. 3) and 
are well-adapted for rapid, prolonged flight (Vaughan 1959 as cited in 
Best et al. 1997, p. 3). This wing structure is conducive to high-speed 
flight in open areas (Findley et al. 1972 as cited in Best et al. 1997, 
p. 3).
    The Florida bonneted bat's fur is short and glossy, with hairs 
sharply bicolored with a white base (Belwood 1992, p. 216; Timm and 
Genoways 2004, p. 857). Like other molossids, color is highly variable, 
varying from black to brown to brownish-gray or cinnamon brown with 
ventral pelage (fur) paler than dorsal (Owre 1978, p. 43; Belwood 1992, 
p. 216; Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 857).

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    Additional details about the Florida bonneted bat can be found in 
the proposed listing rule (77 FR 60750).

Taxonomy

    The Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) was previously known 
as Florida mastiff bat, Wagner's mastiff bat, and mastiff bat (E. 
glaucinus floridanus) (Owre 1978, p. 43; Belwood 1992, p. 216; Best et 
al. 1997, p. 1). While earlier literature found the Florida bonneted 
bat distinct at the subspecies level, the most current scientific 
information confirms that E. floridanus is a full species, and this 
taxonomic change has been accepted by the scientific community (Timm 
and Genoways 2004, pp. 852, 856, 861; McDonough et al. 2008, pp. 1306-
1315; R. Timm, pers. comm. 2008, 2009; in litt. 2012; Baker et al. 
2009, pp. 9-10). The International Union for Conservation of Nature and 
Natural Resources (Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1) and the Florida 
Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) (FNAI 2013, p. 25) use the name E. 
floridanus. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 
(FWC 2011a, pp. 1-11; 2013, pp. 1-43) also recognizes the species as E. 
floridanus, but their current endangered and threatened list uses both 
names, Florida bonneted (mastiff) bat, Eumops (=glaucinus) floridanus 
(see also Factor D below).
    Additional details about the Florida bonneted bat's taxonomy are 
provided in the proposed listing rule (77 FR 60750).

Life History

    Relatively little is known about the Florida bonneted bat's life 
history. Lifespan is not known. Based upon the work of Wilkinson and 
South (2002, pp. 124-131), Gore et al. (2010, p. 1) inferred a lifespan 
of 10 to 20 years for the Florida bonneted bat, with an average 
generation time of 5 to 10 years.
    The Florida bonneted bat has a fairly extensive breeding season 
during summer months (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 859). The maternity 
season for most bat species in Florida occurs from mid-April through 
mid-August (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 8). During the early portion of 
this period, females give birth and leave young in the roost while they 
make multiple foraging excursions to support lactation (Marks and Marks 
2008a, pp. 8-9). During the latter portion of the season, young and 
females forage together until the young become sufficiently skilled to 
forage and survive on their own (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 9). The 
Florida bonneted bat is a subtropical species, and pregnant females 
have been found in June through September (FBC 2005, p. 1; Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 9). Examination of limited data suggests that this 
species may be polyestrous (having more than one period of estrous in a 
year), with a second birthing season possibly in January and February 
(Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 859; FBC 2005, p. 1).
    Information on reproduction and demography is sparse. The Florida 
bonneted bat has low fecundity; litter size is one (FBC 2005, p. 1; 
Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). The colony studied by Belwood 
(1981, p. 412) consisted of eight adults and included five post-
lactating females, one pregnant female with a single fetus, and one 
male with enlarged testicles; the other female escaped before 
examination. The pregnant female captured was the first record of a 
gestating Florida bonneted bat in September (Belwood 1981, p. 412). 
However, Belwood (1981, p. 412) noted that this finding is consistent 
with the reproductive chronology of bonneted bats in Cuba, which are 
polyestrous. Robson et al. (1989, p. 81) found an injured pregnant 
female in Coral Gables in late August 1988, which aborted its fetus in 
early September 1988. A landowner with an active colony in North Fort 
Myers reported that she has seen young bats appear in spring and 
summer, generally with only one or two births within the colony per 
year (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2006a). However, four young were noted in 
2004 (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2006a). The capture of a juvenile male in 
a mist net at Picayune Strand State Forest (PSSF) on December 17, 2009, 
suggested that there was breeding in the area (Smith 2010, p. 1-2).
    Based upon limited information, the species roosts singly or in 
colonies consisting of a male and several females (Belwood 1992, p. 
221). G.T. Hubbell believed that individuals in Miami roosted singly 
(Belwood 1992, p. 221). However, Belwood (1981, p. 412) suggested that 
a colony, consisting of seven females and one male using a longleaf 
pine cavity as a roost site in Punta Gorda, was a harem group, based on 
its sex ratio. Belwood (1981, p. 412; 1992, p. 221) suggested that this 
behavior has been recorded in a few bat species and such social 
groupings may be facilitated by roosting in tree cavities, which can be 
defended from other males (Morrison 1979, pp. 11-15).
    Information on roosting habits from artificial structures is also 
limited. The Florida bonneted bat colony using bat houses on private 
property in Lee County consisted of 8 to 25 individuals, including one 
albino (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2006a, 2006b, 2008a, 2008b, 2012a, 
2013). After prolonged cold temperatures killed and displaced several 
bats in early 2010, a total of 10 individuals remained by April 2010, 
with seven occupying one house and three occupying another (S. Trokey, 
pers. comm. 2010a, 2010b, 2010c). As of March 2013, there are 20 bats 
using two houses at this location (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2013). Sex 
ratio is not known. Some movement between the houses has been observed; 
the albino individual has been observed to be in one house one day and 
the other house the next (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2006a).
    At the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area 
(Babcock-Webb WMA), 39 to 43 individuals have been found to use 3 to 5 
separate roosts (all bat houses) during periodic simultaneous counts 
conducted on 4 occasions over the past year (FWC, in litt. 2012; Marks 
and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 12, A61; J. Myers, pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b, 
2013). Simultaneous counts taken at emergence on April 2, 2013, at 4 
roosts sites, documented 39 individuals with the number at each roost 
as follows: 37, 1, 1, and 0 (J. Myers, pers. comm. 2013). Periodic 
simultaneous counts taken at roosts over the course of a year suggest 
that use fluctuates among five roost sites (FWC, in litt. 2012; J. 
Myers, pers. comm. 2013). Apparent `non-use' of a previous roost during 
monitoring may not be indicative of permanent abandonment (J. Myers, 
pers. comm. 2013). It is not known if there is movement between houses 
or among roost locations or between artificial and unknown natural 
roosts within Babcock-Webb WMA.
    Understanding of roosting behavior and site selection is limited. 
However, there is a high probability that individuals tend towards high 
roost site fidelity (H. Ober, in litt. 2012). Lewis (1995, pp. 481-496) 
found that bats that roost in buildings tend to be more site-faithful 
than those that roost in trees. Among bats that roost in trees, those 
that use cavities in large trees tend to be more site-faithful than 
those that use smaller trees (Brigham 1991; Fenton and Rautenbach 1986; 
Fenton et al. 1993 as cited in Lewis 1995, p. 487; H. Ober, in litt. 
2012). Given its size, the Florida bonneted bat is likely to select 
large trees (H. Ober, in litt. 2012). The large accumulation of guano 
(excrement) 1 meter (m) (3.3 feet (ft)) deep in one known natural roost 
felled in 1979 (see Belwood 1981, p. 412) suggests high roost fidelity, 
especially considering the small number of individuals per colony (H. 
Ober, in litt. 2012).
    The Florida bonneted bat is active year-round and does not have 
periods of hibernation or torpor. The species is not

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migratory, but there might be seasonal shifts in roosting sites (Timm 
and Genoways 2004, p. 860). Belwood (1992, pp. 216-217) reported that, 
prior to 1967, G.T. Hubbell routinely obtained several individuals per 
year collected during the winter from people's houses.
    Precise foraging and roosting habits and long-term requirements are 
unknown (Belwood 1992, p. 219). Active year-round, the species is 
likely dependent upon a constant and sufficient food supply, consisting 
of insects, to maintain its generally high metabolism. The available 
information indicates Florida bonneted bats feed on flying insects of 
the following orders: Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hemiptera 
(true bugs), and Lepidoptera (moths) (Belwood 1981, p. 412; Belwood 
1992, p. 220; FBC 2005, p. 1; Marks 2013, pp. 1-2). An analysis of bat 
guano (droppings) from the colony using the pine flatwoods in Punta 
Gorda indicated that the sample (by volume) contained coleopterans (55 
percent), dipterans (15 percent), and hemipterans (10 percent) (Belwood 
1981, p. 412; Belwood 1992, p. 220). More recent analyses of bat guano 
collected from occupied bat houses at Babcock-Webb WMA indicated that 
the samples contained high percentages of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera 
(Marks 2013, pp. 1-2). In one analysis of 50 fecal pellets (from 
approximately 35 individuals taken April 2013), samples (by volume) 
contained about 49 percent Lepidoptera, 35 percent Coleoptera, and 17 
percent unknown (Marks 2013, p. 1). Analyses of samples taken in May 
2011 (n=6) and June 2011 (n=6) at the same location also indicated that 
high percentages of Lepidoperta (74 percent, 49 percent) and Coleoptera 
(26 percent, 35 percent) were consumed (Marks 2013, pp. 1-2). Florida 
bonneted bats were found to feed on large insects at this location; 
however, specific prey could not be determined because the bats 
apparently culled parts of the insects such as heads, legs, antennae, 
elytra, and wings (Marks 2013, pp. 1-2).
    Researchers are planning to conduct analyses of guano to determine 
dietary preferences and seasonal changes (Ridgley 2012, pp. 1-4; C. 
Marks, FBC, pers. comm. 2012a; S. Snow, Everglades National Park (ENP), 
pers. comm. 2012a; Marks 2013, p. 2). This species may prey upon larger 
insects, which may be less abundant than smaller prey items (S. Snow, 
pers. comm. 2012a). Since the species can take flight from the ground 
like other Eumops species, the Florida bonneted bat may also prey upon 
ground insect species (Ridgley 2012, pp. 1-2). Based upon recent 
analyses, Marks (2013, p. 2) recommended that natural habitats 
conducive to insect diversity be protected and that any pesticides be 
used with caution.
    Molossids, in general, seem adapted to fast flight in open areas 
(Vaughan 1966, p. 249). Various morphological characteristics (e.g., 
narrow wings, high wing-aspect ratios (ratio of wing length to its 
breadth)) make Eumops species well-adapted for efficient, rapid, and 
prolonged flight in open areas (Findley et al. 1972, pp. 429-444; 
Freeman 1981, pp. 96-97; Norberg and Rayner 1987, pp. 399-400; Vaughan 
1959 as cited in Best et al. 1997, p. 3). Barbour and Davis (1969, p. 
234) noted that the species flies faster than smaller bats, but cannot 
maneuver as well in small spaces. Belwood (1992, p. 221) stated that 
Eumops glaucinus is ``capable of long, straight, and sustained 
flight,'' which should allow individuals to travel large distances. 
Norberg and Rayner (1987, p. 399) attributed long distance flights of 
Brazilian free-tailed bats to their high wing-aspect ratios, with that 
species capable of traveling 65 kilometers (km) (40 miles (mi)) from 
its roosting site to its foraging areas (Barbour and Davis 1969, p. 
203). In one study that used radiotelemetry tracking in Arizona, 
Tibbitts et al. (2002, p. 11) found Underwood's mastiff bat (Eumops 
underwoodi) ranged up to 24 km (15 mi) or more during foraging bouts 
from its roost site. Tracked individuals (n=3) were found to commonly 
cover large areas in a single evening (Tibbitts et al. 2002, pp. 1-12). 
The largest single-night home range was 284.6 km\2\ (109.9 mi\2\), and 
all three bats commonly ranged over 100 km\2\ (38.6 mi\2\) on a typical 
night (Tibbitts et al. 2002, p. 12). Most bats on most nights traveled 
20-30 km (12.4-18.6 mi) and often more in the range of 50-100 km (31.1-
62.1 mi) as a minimum estimate (Tibbitts et al. 2002, p. 12).
    Foraging and dispersal distances and home range sizes for the 
Florida bonneted bat are not known and have not been studied in detail 
(K. Gillies, in litt. 2012; G. Marks, pers. comm. 2012; H. Ober, in 
litt. 2012). Like other molossids, the species' morphological 
characteristics make it capable of dispersing large distances and 
generally adapted for low cost, swift, long distance travel from roost 
site to foraging areas (Norberg and Rayner 1987, pp. 399-400; K. 
Gillies, in litt. 2012; H. Ober, in litt. 2012). Given this, it seems 
likely that foraging areas may be located fairly long distances from 
roost sites (H. Ober, in litt. 2012). However, despite its 
capabilities, the species likely does not travel farther than necessary 
to acquire food needed for survival (G. Marks, pers. comm. 2012a).
    Bonneted bats are ``fast hawking'' bats that rely on speed and 
agility to catch target insects in the absence of background clutter, 
such as dense vegetation (Simmons et al. 1979, pp. 16-21; Belwood 1992, 
p. 221; Best et al. 1997, p. 5). Foraging in open spaces, these bats 
use echolocation to detect prey at relatively long range, roughly 3 to 
5 m (10 to 16 ft) (Belwood 1992, p. 221). Based upon information from 
G.T. Hubbell, Belwood (1992, p. 221) indicated that individuals leave 
roosts to forage after dark, seldom occur below 10 m (33 ft) in the 
air, and produce loud, audible calls when flying; calls are easily 
recognized by some humans (Belwood 1992, p. 221; Best et al. 1997, p. 
5; Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 5). On the evening of April 19, 2012, 
Florida bonneted bats using bat houses at Babcock-Webb WMA emerged to 
forage at dusk; emergence began roughly 26 minutes after sunset and 
continued for approximately 20 minutes (P. Halupa, pers. obs. 2012; J. 
Myers, pers. comm. 2012c).

Habitat

    Relatively little is known of the ecology of the Florida bonneted 
bat, and long-term habitat requirements are poorly understood (Robson 
1989, p. 2; Robson et al. 1989, p. 81; Belwood 1992, p. 219; Timm and 
Genoways 2004, p. 859). Habitat for the Florida bonneted bat mainly 
consists of foraging areas and roosting sites, including artificial 
structures. At present, no active, natural roost sites are known, and 
only limited information on historical sites is available.
    Recent information on habitat has been obtained largely through 
acoustical surveys, designed to detect and record bat echolocation 
calls (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 5). Acoustical methods have generally 
been selected over mist netting as the primary survey methodology 
because this species flies and primarily forages at heights of 9 m (30 
ft) or more (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 3). The Florida bonneted bat has 
a unique and easily identifiable call. While most North American bats 
vocalize echolocation calls in the ultrasonic range that are inaudible 
to humans, the Florida bonneted bat echolocates at the higher end of 
the audible range, which can be heard by some humans as high-pitched 
calls (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 5). Most surveys conducted using 
acoustical equipment can detect echolocation calls within a range of 30 
m (100 ft); call sequences are analyzed using software that compares 
calls to a library of

[[Page 61007]]

signature calls (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 5). Florida bonneted bat 
calls are relatively easy to identify because calls are issued at 
frequencies well below that of other Florida bat species (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 5). However, most surveys conducted for the species to 
date have been somewhat limited in scope, with various methods used. 
Since bat activity can vary greatly at a single location both within 
and between nights (Hayes 1997, pp. 514-524; 2000, pp. 225-236), a lack 
of calls during a short listening period may not be indicative of lack 
of use within an area (H. Ober, in litt. 2012).
    In general, open, fresh water and wetlands provide prime foraging 
areas for bats (Marks and Marks 2008c, p. 4). Bats will forage over 
ponds, streams, and wetlands and will drink when flying over open water 
(Marks and Marks 2008c, p. 4). During dry seasons, bats become more 
dependent on remaining ponds, streams, and wetland areas for foraging 
purposes (Marks and Marks 2008c, p. 4). The presence of roosting 
habitat is critical for day roosts, protection from predators, and the 
rearing of young (Marks and Marks 2008c, p. 4). For most bats, the 
availability of suitable roosts is an important, limiting factor 
(Humphrey 1975, pp. 341-343). Bats in south Florida roost primarily in 
trees and manmade structures (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 8). Protective 
tree cover around bat roosts may be important for predator avoidance 
and allowing earlier emergence from the roost, thereby allowing bats to 
take advantage of the peak in insect activity at dusk and extend 
foraging time (Duverge et al. 2000, p. 39).
    Available information on roosting sites for the Florida bonneted 
bat is extremely limited. Roosting and foraging areas appear varied, 
with the species occurring in forested, suburban, and urban areas (Timm 
and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). Data from acoustical surveys and other 
methods suggest that the species uses a wide variety of habitats (R. 
Arwood, Inside-Out Photography, Inc., pers. comm. 2008a, 2008b, 2012a, 
2013a-d; Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 13-14; 2008b, pp. 2-5; 2008c, pp. 
1-28; 2012, pp. 1-22; Smith 2010, pp. 1-4; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2011a, 
2011b, 2012b-h; in litt. 2012; M. Owen, pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b; R. 
Rau, pers. comm. 2012; Maehr 2013, pp. 1-13; S. Maehr, pers. comm. 
2013a, 2013b; K. Relish, pers. comm. 2013; F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 
2013a-c; B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a-f; K. Smith, pers. comm. 2013).
    Attempts to locate natural roost sites (e.g., large cavity trees) 
in February 2013 using scent-detection dogs were inconclusive. No 
active natural roosts for Florida bonneted bats have been identified or 
confirmed to date. At this time, all known active roost sites are 
artificial structures (i.e., bat houses) (see Use of Artificial 
Structures (Bat Houses) below).

Use of Forests and Other Natural Areas

    Bonneted bats are closely associated with forested areas because of 
their tree-roosting habits (Robson 1989, p. 2; Belwood 1992, p. 220; 
Eger 1999, p. 132), but specific information is limited. Belwood (1981, 
p. 412) found a small colony of Florida bonneted bats (seven females 
and one male, all adults) roosting in a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) 
in a pine flatwoods community near Punta Gorda in 1979. The bats were 
roosting in a cavity 4.6 m (15.1 ft) high, which had been excavated by 
a red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and later enlarged by a 
pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) (Belwood 1981, p. 412). 
Belwood (1981, p. 412) suggested that the bats were permanent residents 
of the tree due to the considerable accumulation of guano, 
approximately 1 m (3.3 ft) in depth. Eger (1999, p. 132) noted that in 
forested areas, old, mature trees are essential roosting sites for this 
species. The species also uses foliage of palm trees. Based upon 
information from G.T. Hubbell, specimens have been found in shafts of 
royal palms (Roystonea regia) (Belwood 1992, p. 219).
    Similar roosting habitats have been reported for E. g. glaucinus in 
Cuba. Nine of 19 known E. g. glaucinus roost sites were located in tree 
cavities, including woodpecker holes and cavities in royal palms, 
``degame'' trees (Callycophyllum candidissimum), and mastic trees 
(Bursera simaruba) (Silva-Taboada 1979 as cited in Robson 1989, p. 2 
and Belwood 1992, p. 219). Another individual was found roosting in the 
foliage of the palm Copernicia vespertilionum (Silva-Taboada 1979 as 
cited in Belwood 1992, p. 219). Belwood (1992, pp. 219-220) noted that 
the majority of the approximately 80 specimens of E. glaucinus from 
Venezuela housed in the U.S. National Museum were collected from tree 
cavities in heavily forested areas.
    More recent acoustical data and other information indicate that the 
Florida bonneted bat uses forests and a variety of other natural areas. 
Echolocation calls have been recorded in a wide array of habitat types: 
Pine flatwoods, pine rocklands, cypress, hardwood hammocks, mangroves, 
wetlands, rivers, lakes, ponds, canals, and so forth (see Table 1). 
Table 1 lists locations and habitat types where Florida bonneted bats 
were recorded or observed (2003 to present) (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 
2008a, 2008b, 2012a, 2013a-d; Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 13-14; 2008b, 
pp. 2-5; 2008c, pp. 1-28; 2012, pp. 1-22; Smith 2010, pp. 1-4; S. Snow, 
pers. comm. 2011a, 2011b, 2012b-h; in litt. 2012; M. Owen, pers. comm. 
2012a, 2012b; R. Rau, pers. comm. 2012; Maehr 2013, pp. 1-13; S. Maehr, 
pers. comm. 2013a, 2013b; K. Relish, pers. comm. 2013; F. Ridgley, 
pers. comm. 2013a-c; B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a-f; K. Smith, pers. 
comm. 2013). Additional details on key sites are provided below Table 
1.

               Table 1--Locations and Habitat Types Recorded or Observed for Florida Bonneted Bats
                                                   [2003-2013]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Site                    Ownership             County            Management         Habitat type
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Everglades National Park (ENP)    public...........  Monroe.............  National Park       earth midden
 (coastal) (2 backcountry sites                                            Service (NPS).      hammocks,
 along Wilderness Waterway                                                                     mangroves.
 [Darwin's Place, Watson's
 Place]).
ENP (mainland) (junction of Main  public...........  Miami-Dade.........  NPS...............  pine rocklands,
 Park Road and Long Pine Key).                                                                 wet prairie,
                                                                                               tropical
                                                                                               hardwoods.
L-31N canal, proposed             public...........  Miami-Dade.........  NPS and SFWMD.....  canal, mixed.
 transmission line corridor,
 eastern boundary ENP.
Homestead, FL...................  private..........  Miami-Dade.........  None..............  residential,
                                                                                               urban.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic        private..........  Miami-Dade.........  FTBG..............  pine rockland,
 Garden (FTBG).                                                                                hardwood hammock,
                                                                                               water, tropical
                                                                                               garden,
                                                                                               residential.

[[Page 61008]]

 
Zoo Miami.......................  public...........  Miami-Dade.........  Miami-Dade County.  pine rocklands,
                                                                                               disturbed
                                                                                               nonnative areas,
                                                                                               developed park
                                                                                               lands, groves,
                                                                                               artificial
                                                                                               freshwater lakes.
Larry and Penny Thompson Park...  public...........  Miami-Dade.........  Miami-Dade County.  pine rocklands,
                                                                                               developed park
                                                                                               lands, groves,
                                                                                               artificial
                                                                                               freshwater lake.
Martinez Preserve...............  public...........  Miami-Dade.........  Miami-Dade County.  pine rocklands,
                                                                                               remnant
                                                                                               transition glade.
Coral Gables (2 sites, including  private..........  Miami-Dade.........  None..............  residential,
 Granada Golf Course).                                                                         urban.
Snapper Creek Park..............  public...........  Miami-Dade.........  Miami-Dade County.  residential,
                                                                                               urban.
Everglades City.................  private..........  Collier............  None..............  residential,
                                                                                               urban.
Naples..........................  private..........  Collier............  None..............  residential,
                                                                                               urban.
Florida Panther NWR (multiple     public...........  Collier............  U.S. Fish and       pine flatwoods,
 sites).                                                                   Wildlife Service.   wet prairie,
                                                                                               lakes, artificial
                                                                                               and ephemeral
                                                                                               ponds bordered by
                                                                                               royal palm
                                                                                               hammock, cypress,
                                                                                               pond apple, oak
                                                                                               hammock.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve       public...........  Collier............  Florida Department  lake, canal near
 State Park (FSPSP) (multiple                                              of Environmental    hardwood hammock,
 sites).                                                                   Protection (FDEP).  pine flatwoods,
                                                                                               strand swamp,
                                                                                               royal palms.
Picayune Strand State Forest      public...........  Collier............  FFS...............  canal, wet
 (PSSF) (multiple sites).                                                                      prairie, pine
                                                                                               flatwoods,
                                                                                               cypress, hardwood
                                                                                               hammock, exotics.
Big Cypress National Preserve     public...........  Collier............  NPS...............  pine flatwoods,
 (BCNP) (multiple sites).                                                                      palmetto,
                                                                                               cypress, mixed
                                                                                               and hardwood
                                                                                               hammocks,
                                                                                               mangroves, mixed
                                                                                               shrubs, wet
                                                                                               prairies, river,
                                                                                               lake, campground.
North Fort Myers (2 sites,        private..........  Lee................  None; private       residential,
 including bat houses).                                                    landowner.          rural, urban; bat
                                                                                               houses.
Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management  public...........  Charlotte..........  Florida Fish and    pinelands (and
 Area (WMA) (multiple sites).                                              Wildlife            near red-cockaded
                                                                           Conservation        woodpecker
                                                                           Commission (FWC).   clusters); bat
                                                                                               houses.
Babcock Ranch Preserve            public, private..  Charlotte..........  Private entities,   swamp.
 (Telegraph Swamp).                                                        FWC, FFS, and Lee
                                                                           County.
KICCO WMA.......................  public...........  Polk...............  SWFWMD and FWC....  oxbow along
                                                                                               Kissimmee River.
Avon Park Air Force Range         public...........  Polk...............  Air Force.........  scrubby flatwoods,
 (APAFR).                                                                                      next to open
                                                                                               water lake/pond;
                                                                                               wetland in scrub
                                                                                               habitat.
Kissimmee River Public Use Area   public...........  Okeecho-bee........  SWFWMD and FWC....  boat ramp along
 (Platt's Bluff).                                                                              Kissimmee River.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 2006, the species was found at Babcock-Webb WMA in the general 
vicinity of the colony found by Belwood (1981, p. 412); this was the 
first documentation of the Florida bonneted bat at this location since 
1979 (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 6, 11, 13). Major habitat types at 
Babcock-Webb WMA include dry prairie, freshwater marsh, wet prairie, 
and pine flatwoods; all calls were recorded in pinelands (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, pp. A7, B38-B39; 2012, pp. 8, A61, B43). The species was 
also recorded at an adjacent property, Babcock Ranch Preserve, in 2007; 
calls were recorded at Telegraph Swamp, but not in the pinelands 
surveyed (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. A9, B55-B57).
    The species has been found within the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve 
State Park (FSPSP), using this area throughout the year (D. Giardina, 
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), pers. comm. 
2006; C. Marks, pers. comm. 2006a, 2006b; M. Owen, FSPSP, pers. comm. 
2012a, 2012b). In 2006, this species was found at a small lake and at a 
canal adjacent to tropical hardwood hammocks (Ballard Pond and Prairie 
Canal Bridge) in the FSPSP (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 11, A7-A9, B50-
B51). Available data and observations indicate that the species was 
regularly heard at FSPSP from 2000 through 2012 at various locations, 
primarily in the main strand swamp and near royal palms (M. Owen, pers. 
comm. 2012a, 2012b; R. Rau, pers. comm. 2012). In November 2007, the 
species was observed along U.S. 41 at Collier-Seminole State Park in 
Collier County (S. Braem, FDEP, pers. comm. 2012). The FDEP also 
suggests that the species may occur at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State 
Park in Charlotte County and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Collier 
County (P. Small, FDEP, pers. comm. 2012).
    The Florida bonneted bat has been found in various habitats within 
Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP). During surveys conducted in a 
variety of habitats in 2006-2007, the majority consisting of cypress 
swamps and wetlands, only one Florida bonneted bat call sequence was 
recorded in BCNP in 16 nights of effort (stationary and roving surveys) 
(Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 11, A12-A14). The call sequence was 
recorded at Deep Lake along the western edge of BCNP and the eastern 
side of the FSPSP; the lake was surrounded by cypress and hardwood 
hammocks similar to the habitat around Ballard Pond in the FSPSP (see 
above) (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008b). The species was recorded again 
in February 2012 at another location (Cal Stone's camp) in an area of 
pine and palmetto with cypress domes in the surrounding area (R. 
Arwood, pers. comm. 2012a; Marks and Marks 2012, p. 13). Data derived 
from recordings taken in 2003 and 2007 by a contractor and provided to 
the Service (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012g) and available land use covers 
derived from a geographic information system also suggest that the 
species uses a wide array of habitats within BCNP. Additional call data 
obtained in late 2012 and early 2013 also suggest the use

[[Page 61009]]

of various habitat types, including forested areas, wetlands, and open 
water in BCNP (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013a-d).
    Recent results from a study at Florida Panther NWR conducted in 
2013 also show the species' use of forested areas, open water, and 
wetlands (Maehr 2013, pp. 1-13). Of the 13 locations examined, the 
highest detection of Florida bonneted bat calls occurred in areas with 
the largest amount of open water (Maehr 2013, p. 8). The area with the 
highest detection was an open water pond, surrounded primarily by pine 
flatwoods and oak hammock (S. Maehr, pers. comm. 2013a-c). That area 
has been regularly burned and contains a large amount of old snags that 
have been hollowed by woodpeckers (C. Maehr, pers. comm. 2013c).
    As noted earlier, FWC biologists and volunteers caught a free-
flying juvenile male Florida bonneted bat in 2009, using a mist net in 
the PSSF in Collier County (Smith 2010, p. 1). Habitat composition of 
PSSF includes wet prairie, cypress stands, and pine flatwoods in the 
lowlands and subtropical hardwood hammocks in the uplands, and the 
individual was captured in the net above the Faka-Union Canal (Smith 
2010, p. 1). This was particularly notable because it may have been the 
first capture of a Florida bonneted bat in an area with no known roost 
site (Smith 2010, p. 1). The species has been detected at nine 
locations within PSSF (i.e., captured at one location, heard while mist 
netting at eight other locations), and each site was located near 
canals (K. Smith, pers. comm. 2013).
    In 2000, the species was recorded within mangroves at Dismal Key 
within the Ten Thousand Islands (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 861; Marks 
and Marks 2008a, pp. 6, A9, B53; 2012, p. 14). Subsequent surveys in 
2000, 2006, and 2007 did not document any additional calls at this 
location (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 6, 11, 14). In 2007, the species 
was recorded at a backcountry campsite (Watson's Place) within ENP, 
comprised of mixed hardwoods (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012h). In 2012, the 
species was found within mangroves and mixed hardwoods at another 
backcountry campsite (Darwin's Place) along the Wilderness Waterway 
(Ten Thousand Islands area), approximately 4.8 km (3 mi) east-southeast 
of Watson's Place within ENP (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 17, A53, 
B35, B38; C. Marks, pers. comm. 2012b; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012h). 
However, the species was not located in similar habitats during 18 
survey nights in 2012 (Marks and Marks 2012, p. 14).
    In 2011-2012, the species was recorded in various natural habitats 
elsewhere in ENP and vicinity (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2011a, 2012c-f; S. 
Snow, in litt. 2012; Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 14). It was recorded 
in wetlands, tropical hardwoods, and pinelands at the junction of the 
main park road and road to Long Pine Key (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2011a, 
2012f; in litt. 2012; Marks and Marks 2012, p. 8, 14, 17), and also 
along the L-31N canal in a rural area, at the eastern boundary of ENP 
(Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 14, 17, A59; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012c-
f; in litt. 2012). In March 2012, one suspect call sequence (presumed, 
but not confirmed) was also recorded on SR 9336 in an area of rural 
residential and agricultural habitat in Miami-Dade County (S. Snow, 
pers. comm. 2012f). In January 2012, another suspect call was recorded 
from the suburban streets of the village of Palmetto Bay in Miami-Dade 
(S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012f).
    In 2008, the Florida bonneted bat was recorded at two locations 
along the Kissimmee River during a survey of public areas contracted by 
FWC (J. Morse, pers. comm. 2008, 2010; Marks and Marks 2008b, pp. 2-5; 
2008c, pp. 1-28). One location was at an oxbow along the Kissimmee 
River in a pasture in KICCO WMA; the other was at Platt's Bluff boat 
ramp at a public park on the Kissimmee River (Marks and Marks 2008c, 
pp. 11, 17). No additional calls were detected in the Lake Kissimmee 
areas or along the Kissimmee River during subsequent surveys designed 
to more completely define the northern part of the Florida bonneted 
bat's range in 2010-2012 (C. Marks, pers. comm. 2012c; Marks and Marks 
2012, pp. 3, 5, 8, 10). However, the Florida bonneted bat was detected 
elsewhere in the northern part of its range during surveys at APAFR in 
2013 (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a, 2013e) (see Current 
Distribution). Call sequences were recorded at two locations, including 
one in an area of scrubby flatwoods next to a natural open water lake/
pond and near several cavity trees and snags and another near a wetland 
embedded in scrub habitat (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013b, 2013d, 
2013e).

Use of Parks, Residential Areas, and Other Urban Areas

    The Florida bonneted bat uses human structures and other nonnatural 
environments. In Coral Gables (Miami area), specimens have been found 
in the shafts of royal palm leaves (Belwood 1992, p. 219). Based upon 
observations from G.T. Hubbell, past sightings in Miami suggest that 
preferred diurnal roosts may be the shingles under Spanish tile roofs 
(Belwood 1992, p. 219). The species also roosts in buildings (e.g., in 
attics, rock or brick chimneys of fireplaces, and especially buildings 
dating from about 1920-1930) (Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). One 
individual recently reported that a single Florida bonneted bat had 
come down the chimney and into his residence in Coral Gables in the 
fall about 5 years ago (D. Pearson, pers. comm. 2012). Belwood (1992, 
p. 220) suggested that urban bats would appear to benefit from using 
Spanish tile roofs on dwellings, since the human population in south 
Florida is growing, and Spanish tile roofs are likely more common now 
than in the past. However, it is important to recognize that bats using 
old or abandoned and new dwellings are at significant risk; bats are 
removed when structures are demolished or when they are no longer 
tolerated by humans (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, 
Factor E).
    Discovery of an adult with a specimen tag indicating ``found under 
rocks when bull-dozing ground'' suggests this species may also roost in 
rocky crevices and outcrops on the ground (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 
860). A colony was found in a limestone outcropping on the north edge 
of the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables; the limestone 
contained a large number of flat, horizontal, eroded fissures in which 
the bats roosted (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 860). It is not known to 
what extent such roost sites are suitable.
    Recent acoustical surveys (2006, 2008, 2012) confirmed that the 
species continues to use a golf course in urban Coral Gables (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, pp. 6, 11, A4; 2008b, pp. 1-6; 2012, pp. 8, 14, 16, 19, 
A24, B16). Despite numerous efforts, attempts to locate the roost site 
have been unsuccessful.
    Recordings taken continuously from a balcony from a fifth floor 
condominium also detected presence in Naples (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 
2008a). Recordings taken from a house and at a boat dock along the 
Barron River in Everglades City also detected presence in this area (R. 
Arwood, pers. comm. 2008a).
    The species has been documented at Zoo Miami within an urban public 
park within the Richmond Pinelands in Miami-Dade County (Marks and 
Marks 2012, pp. 8, 14, 16, A26; Ridgley 2012, p. 1; F. Ridgley, pers. 
comm. 2013a, 2013b). A dead specimen was found on Zoo Miami (then known 
as Miami Metrozoo) grounds at the Asian Elephant barn in 2004 (Marks 
and Marks 2008a, p. 6). Miami-Dade County

[[Page 61010]]

biologists observed seven bats similar in size to Florida bonneted bats 
and heard chatter at the correct frequency a few years ago, but were 
unable to obtain definitive recordings (S. Thompson, Miami-Dade Park 
and Recreation Department, pers. comm. 2010) until a single call was 
recorded by FBC outside the same enclosure in September 2011 (Marks and 
Marks 2012, pp. 8, 14, 16, A26; Ridgley 2012, p. 1).
    Florida bonneted bats have been recorded more recently at the Zoo 
Miami, Larry and Penny Thompson Park, and the Martinez Preserve, with 
peak activity in areas of artificial freshwater lakes adjacent to 
intact pine rocklands (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013a-c). Surrounding 
habitats include pine rocklands, disturbed natural areas with invasive 
plant species, freshwater lakes, developed area, open recreational 
areas, and horticulturally altered landscape, with a variety of manmade 
structures (J. Maguire, in litt. 2012; Ridgley 2012, p. 1; F. Ridgley, 
pers. comm. 2013b). Although there are five artificial lakes on the 
grounds of Zoo Miami and Larry and Penny Thompson Park, the Florida 
bonneted bat appears to utilize the two that have pine rockland 
adjacent to their shorelines (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b). Possible 
roosting sites that exist on the properties include manmade structures, 
pine snags, and limestone cavities (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b).
    In 2011 and 2012, the species was recorded within tropical gardens 
at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) in Miami-Dade County (S. 
Snow, pers. comm. 2011b, 2012b, 2012f; Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 13-
14, 17, A35, A37).

Use of Artificial Structures (Bat Houses)

    The Florida bonneted bat uses non-natural environments (see Use of 
Parks, Residential Areas, and other Urban Areas, above) and artificial 
structures, particularly bat houses (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 8; Morse 
2008, pp. 1-14; S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b). In fact, all of 
the active known roosting sites for the species are bat houses (2 at a 
private landowner's house; 3 to 5 separate roosts at Babcock-Webb WMA).
    The species occupies bat houses on private land in North Fort 
Myers, Lee County; until relatively recently, this was the only known 
location of an active colony roost anywhere (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 
2006a, 2008b; Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 7, 15). The Florida bonneted 
bat has used this property for over 9 years (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 
2012a). The bat houses are located near a small pond, situated 
approximately 5 m (17 ft) above the ground with a south-by-southwest 
orientation (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2012b). The relatively high height 
of the houses may allow the large bats to fall from the roosts before 
flying (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2012b).
    The species also occupies bat houses within pinelands at Babcock-
Webb WMA in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 
A61). In winter 2008, two colonies were found using bat houses (Morse 
2008, p. 8; N. Douglass, FWC, pers. comm. 2009). In 2010, approximately 
25 individuals were found at two additional bat houses, bringing the 
potential total at Babcock-Webb WMA to 58 individuals, occupying four 
houses (J. Birchfield, FWC, pers. comm. 2010; Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 
12, A61). In 2012, 42 individuals were found to use four roost sites, 
consisting of a total of seven bat houses, situated approximately 5 m 
(17 ft) above the ground with north and south orientations (Marks and 
Marks 2012, pp. 12, 19, A61; J. Myers, pers. comm. 2012a). In September 
2012, five bats were observed using two triple-chambered houses mounted 
back-to-back; this represented the fifth roost site found at Babcock-
Webb WMA (FWC, in litt. 2012). In 2013, 39 individuals were using 3 
roost sites (J. Myers, pers. comm. 2013). Roosts at Babcock-Webb WMA 
are mainly in hydric and mesic pine flatwoods with depression and basin 
marshes and other mixed habitat in the vicinity (J. Myers, pers. comm. 
2012b).

Summary

    In summary, relatively little is known of the species' habitat 
requirements. Based upon available data discussed above, it appears 
that the species can use a wide array of habitat types (see Table 1, 
above). The extremely limited available information on roosting sites 
is particularly problematic, as the availability of suitable roosts is 
an important limiting factor for most bat species. Existing roost sites 
need to be identified so that they can be preserved and protected 
(Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 15; K. Gillies, in litt. 2012). Uncertainty 
regarding the location of natural and artificial roost sites may 
contribute to the species' vulnerability (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factors A and E, below). As the locations of 
other potentially active roost sites are not known, inadvertent impacts 
to and losses of roosts may be more likely to occur. If roost sites are 
located, actions could be taken to avoid or minimize losses.

Historical Distribution

    Records indicating historical range are limited. Information on the 
Florida bonneted bat's historical distribution is provided in the 
proposed listing rule (77 FR 60750). We did not receive any new 
information during the public comment period.

Current Distribution

    Endemic to Florida, the Florida bonneted bat has one of the most 
restricted distributions of any species of bat in the New World 
(Belwood 1992, pp. 218-219; Timm and Genoways 2004, pp. 852, 856-858, 
861-862). Although numerous acoustical surveys for the Florida bonneted 
bat have been conducted in the past decade by various parties, the best 
scientific information indicates that the species exists only within a 
very restricted range, largely confined to south and southwest Florida 
(Timm and Genoways 2004, pp. 852, 856-858, 861-862; Marks and Marks 
2008a, p. 15; 2012, pp. 10-11).
    The majority of information relating to current distribution comes 
from the following recent studies: (1) Rangewide surveys conducted in 
2006-2007, funded by the Service, to determine the status of the 
Florida bonneted bat following the 2004 hurricane season, and follow-up 
surveys in 2008 (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 1-16 and appendices; 2008b, 
pp. 1-6); (2) surveys conducted in 2008 along the Kissimmee River and 
Lake Wales Ridge, funded by the FWC, as part of bat conservation and 
land management efforts (Marks and Marks 2008c, pp. 1-28; 2008d, pp. 1-
21; Morse 2008, p. 2); (3) surveys conducted within BCNP in 2003 and 
2007, funded by the NPS (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012g), and surveys 
conducted in BCNP in 2012 and 2013 through volunteer efforts (R. 
Arwood, pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b, 2013a-d); (4) surveys conducted in 
2011-2012 in ENP by NPS staff (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012c-f; in litt. 
2012); (5) surveys conducted in 2010-2012, funded by the Service, to 
fill past gaps and better define the northern and southern extent of 
the species' range (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 1-22 and appendices); (6) 
recordings taken from proposed wind energy facilities in Glades and 
Palm Beach Counties (C. Coberly, Merlin Ecological, LLC., pers. comm. 
2012; C. Newman, Normandeau Associates, Inc, pers. comm. 2012); and (7) 
surveys conducted as part of other isolated studies. Details relating 
to the bulk of these survey efforts and results were described in 
detail in the proposed listing rule (77 FR 60750). Only new information 
or relevant findings are provided below.

[[Page 61011]]

    It is important to note that most surveys were limited in scope, 
and various methods and equipment were used. In many cases, relatively 
short listening intervals were employed (generally >1 hour in duration, 
often multiple hours). Only a few studies sampled the same areas on 
more than one occasion or for consecutive nights. More robust study 
designs would account for sources of temporal, spatial, and sampling 
variation and explicitly state underlying assumptions (Hayes 1997, pp. 
514-524; 2000, pp. 225-236).
(1) Surveys in Big Cypress
    Data from acoustical surveys conducted from December 7, 2012, 
through July 11, 2013, documented presence at seven sites within BCNP 
(R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013a-d). In this effort, continuous recordings 
were taken from sundown to sunrise over multiple nights at each site 
survey site (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2012b). As of July 11, 2013, a 
total of 747 Florida bonneted bat calls were recorded out of 36,441 
total calls over 296 nights (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013c). The vast 
majority of Florida bonneted bat calls (721 of 747) were recorded at 
one pond in a remote area of BCNP, with activity found on 8 of 10 
nights in May and June 2013 (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013c). It is 
noteworthy that in each of the seven locations, Florida bonneted bat 
calls were not detected on the first night of sampling. Had surveys not 
been conducted over multiple nights, presence would not have been 
detected.
(2) Surveys in the Everglades Region
    Acoustical surveys conducted on 80 nights in the Everglades region 
from October 2011 to November 2012 by Skip Snow (pers. comm. 2012b, 
2012c-f; in litt. 2012) documented presence at several locations within 
ENP and surrounding locations (see Table 1). These findings are 
significant because the importance of the Everglades region to the 
Florida bonneted bat had been previously in question.
(3) Other Isolated Studies
    Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR)--An acoustical survey was 
initiated at APAFR in January 2013. Surveys were conducted at 13 
locations over 119 survey nights (sunset to sunrise) (B. Scofield, 
pers. comm. 2013f). As of August 2013, a total of 9 Florida bonneted 
bat call sequences (of 2,170 total bat call sequences) were recorded at 
two locations on APAFR in Polk County (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a-
f). At one location, presence was detected in scrubby flatwoods within 
a red-cockaded woodpecker colony next to a natural open water lake/pond 
(B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013b). At the second location, presence was 
detected near a wetland embedded in scrub habitat about 4.0 km (2.5 mi) 
from the previous detection (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013e). These 
findings are significant because they provide additional evidence of 
current presence in the northern part of the species' range, where 
survey information is generally lacking. It is also noteworthy that at 
one location detected, Florida bonneted bats were not recorded for the 
first 3 weeks of sampling (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013d). Had surveys 
not been conducted over multiple weeks at the same location, presence 
may not have been detected.
    Florida Panther NWR--An acoustical survey was conducted at Florida 
Panther NWR from February 28 to May 5, 2013. Surveys using multiple 
detectors were conducted at 13 locations on the refuge, primarily near 
water bodies, over 57 survey nights (Maehr 2013, pp. 5-7; C. Maehr, 
pers. comm. 2013b). The number of detection devices deployed at each 
location ranged from 4 to 9, depending upon size and access to open 
water (Maehr 2013, pp. 5-7). Recordings were taken for 3 to 4 
consecutive nights at each location, with all frequencies recorded from 
dusk plus 7 hours (Maehr 2013, p. 5). Florida bonneted bats calls were 
recorded at 9 of 13 locations, primarily in areas of the largest open 
water and in the area of the Fakahatchee Strand that bisects the refuge 
(Maehr 2013, pp. 7-9).
    This study confirms presence on the refuge and suggests that it is 
an important area for the species. Of additional significance was the 
simultaneous recordings of Florida bonneted bats at multiple locations 
(Maehr 2013, p. 9). These findings, along with detection shortly after 
sunset, suggest that Florida bonneted bats may be roosting on the 
refuge, in addition to using the area for foraging (Maehr 2013, p. 9). 
Additional data analyses are currently underway. Detections at numerous 
locations may be partly attributable to the comprehensive array of 
detectors deployed (e.g., saturation of specific sites), multiple 
nights sampled, and length of hours sampled (i.e., 7 hours or more each 
night).
    Zoo Miami, Larry and Penny Thompson Park, and Martinez Preserve--An 
acoustical survey of the properties, totaling roughly ~526 ha (~1,300 
ac), was conducted using a grid system and randomized sampling points 
(F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013a-c). As of June 2013, 137 nights of 
recordings have been conducted, with recordings taken from dusk to dawn 
and microphones elevated on a portable 5.2-m (17-ft) mast (F. Ridgley, 
pers. comm. 2013b). Results of the first quarter analysis yielded 154 
Florida bonneted bat calls out of over 20,500 total bat call sequences 
(F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b). The species was detected at 23 of the 
50 sampling points; 10 of those points accounted for more than 80 
percent of the calls (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b). Peak activity 
areas for the Florida bonneted bat within the study area are associated 
with artificial freshwater lakes adjacent to intact pine rockland (F. 
Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b). Although no roosting sites have been 
identified to date, early emergence calls (within 15-20 minutes after 
sunset) have been repeatedly documented, and all early calls have been 
on the edge of a tract of intact pine rockland (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 
2013b).
    In summary, the Florida bonneted bat appears to be largely 
restricted to south and southwest Florida. The core range may primarily 
consist of habitat within Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, and Miami-
Dade Counties. Recent data also confirm use of portions of south-
central Florida in Okeechobee and Polk Counties and suggest possible 
use of areas within Glades County. However, given limited available 
data, it is not clear to what extent areas outside of the core range 
may be used. It is possible that areas outside of the south and 
southwest Florida are used only seasonally or sporadically. 
Alternatively, these areas may be used consistently, but the species 
was not regularly located due to limited search efforts, imperfect 
survey methods, constraints of recording devices, and general 
difficulties in detecting the species.

Population Estimates and Status

    Historical--Little information exists on historical population 
levels. Details are provided in the proposed listing rule (77 FR 
60750).
    Current--Based upon available data and information, the Florida 
bonneted bat occurs within a restricted range and in apparent low 
abundance (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 15; 2012, pp. 9-15; Timm and 
Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1; FWC 2011a, pp. 3-4; FWC 2011b, pp. 3, 6; R. 
Timm, pers. comm. 2012, in litt. 2012). Actual population size is not 
known, and no population viability analyses are available (FWC 2011a, 
p. 4; 2013, p. 16; K. Bohn, in litt. 2012). However, population size is 
thought to be less than that needed for optimum viability (Timm and 
Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1; K. Bohn, in litt. 2012). As

[[Page 61012]]

part of their evaluation of listing criteria for the species, Gore et 
al. (2010, p. 2) found that the extent of occurrence appears to have 
decreased on the east coast of Florida, but trends on the west coast 
could not be inferred due to limited information.
    In his independent review of the FWC's biological status report, 
Ted Fleming, Emeritus Professor of biology at University of Miami, 
noted that anecdotal evidence from the 1950s and 1960s suggests that 
this species was more common along Florida's southeast coast compared 
with the present (FWC 2011b, p. 3). Fleming stated that, ``There can be 
no doubt that E. floridanus is an uncommon bat throughout its very 
small range. Its audible echolocation calls are distinctive and easily 
recognized, making it relatively easy to survey in the field'' (FWC 
2011b, p. 3). He also stated that he does not doubt that the total 
State population numbers ``in the hundreds or low thousands'' (FWC 
2011b, p. 3).
    Similarly, in response to a request for information as part of the 
Service's annual candidate notice of review, Robert Timm (pers. comm. 
2012), Curator of Mammals at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary 
Biology and Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas, 
indicated that numbers are low, in his view, as documented by survey 
attempts: ``Eumops are very obvious bats where they occur because of 
their large size and distinctive calls. Given the efforts to locate 
them throughout southern Florida, if they were there in any significant 
numbers, they would have been located'' (R. Timm, pers. comm. 2012).
    Results of the 2006-2007 rangewide survey suggested that the 
Florida bonneted bat is a rare species with limited range and low 
abundance (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 15). Based upon results of both 
the rangewide study and survey of select public lands, the species was 
found at 12 locations (Marks and Marks 2008b, p. 4), but the number and 
status of the bat at each location are unknown. Based upon the small 
number of locations where calls were recorded, the low numbers of calls 
recorded at each location, and the fact that the species forms small 
colonies, Marks and Marks (2008a, p. 15) stated that it is possible 
that the entire population of Florida bonneted bats may number less 
than a few hundred individuals.
    Results of the 2010-2012 surveys and additional surveys by other 
researchers identified new occurrences within the established range 
(i.e., within Miami area, areas of ENP and BCNP) (S. Snow, pers. comm. 
2011a, 2011b, 2012b-f; R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2012a, 2013a-c; Marks and 
Marks 2012, p. 8), however, not in sufficient numbers to alter previous 
population estimates. In their 2012 report on the status of the 
species, Marks and Marks (2012, p. 12) provided an updated estimation 
of population size, based upon 120 nights of surveys at 96 locations 
within peninsular Florida, results of other known surveys, and personal 
communications with others involved in Florida bonneted bat work. Based 
upon an average colony size of 11 and an estimated 26 colonies within 
the species' range, researchers estimated the total Florida bonneted 
bat population at 286 bats (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 12-15). 
Researchers acknowledged that this was to be considered a rough 
estimate, intended as a starting point and a basis for future work 
(Marks and Marks 2012, p. 12).
    In a vulnerability assessment, the FWC's biological status review 
team determined that the species met criteria or listing measures for 
geographic range, population size and trend, and population size and 
restricted area (Gore et al. 2010, pp. 1-2). For population size and 
trend, the review team estimated <100 individuals known in roosts, with 
an assumed total population of mature individuals being well below the 
criterion of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. Similarly, for 
population size and restricted area, the review team estimated <100 
individuals of all ages known in roost counts, inferring a total 
population to number fewer than 1,000 mature individuals, and 
potentially three subpopulations in south Florida. Detection of the 
species in the northern part of its range may be suggestive of an 
additional subpopulation in south-central Florida (see Current 
Distribution, above). In total, there may be three or four 
subpopulations.
    Similarly, the 2012 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the 
species as ``critically endangered'' because ``its population size is 
estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals, with no 
subpopulation greater than 50 individuals, and it is experiencing a 
continuing decline'' (Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). The FNAI 
(2013, pp. 25, 29) also considers the global element rank of the 
Florida bonneted bat to be G1, meaning it is critically imperiled 
globally because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or fewer 
than 1,000 individuals) or because of extreme vulnerability to 
extinction due to some natural or manmade factor.
    Estimates of population size are crude, relative, and largely based 
upon expert opinions and inferences from available data. Due to the 
numerous challenges associated with censusing bats (Kunz 2003, pp. 9-
17), it will likely be difficult to accurately estimate the size of the 
Florida bonneted bat population (FWC 2013, p. 13). Alternative 
approaches, such as occupancy modeling and analysis of genetic 
diversity, may provide better estimates and more useful information 
about population size in the future (K. Gillies, in litt. 2012; FWC 
2013, p. 16).

Acoustical Survey Efforts as Indicators of Rarity

    A detailed discussion of acoustical survey effort and results can 
be found in the proposed listing rule (77 FR 60750). Only new 
information we received during the public comment period or relevant 
findings are provided below.
    Results from acoustical surveys conducted in late 2012 through mid-
2013 detected generally few Florida bonneted bat calls in BCNP, except 
for one location. In 296 nights of sampling, 747 Florida bonneted bat 
calls of 36,441 total bat calls were recorded on 17 nights at 7 of 44 
sites surveyed (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013c). Most of the positive 
calls (721) were recorded at one location (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 
2013c). Although it is difficult to compare studies, these results 
appear to confirm previous findings suggesting rarity, particularly 
because this study employed longer recording intervals (i.e., 
continuous recordings taken from sunset to sunrise) with multiple 
nights at each site survey site (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2012b).
    Acoustical surveys conducted at Zoo Miami and adjacent pinelands 
over 137 nights of sampling detected 154 Florida bonneted bat calls out 
of over 20,500 bat call sequences recorded (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 
2013). Although difficult to compare to other studies, it should be 
noted that this study also employed long recording intervals (i.e., 
continuous recordings taken from sunset to sunrise) taken from an 
elevated microphone to improve detection.
    Available data and information (from previous efforts and those 
presented above) show comparatively few positive Florida bonneted bat 
calls recorded relative to other bat species with considerable survey 
effort expended. Although acoustical data suggest general rarity, it is 
not possible to estimate population size from this information, due to 
the limitations of the studies (e.g., large areas not surveyed, surveys 
primarily conducted on public lands, lack of randomization in selecting 
survey sites, short duration of many listening periods) and equipment 
(e.g., recording distance), and aspects of the

[[Page 61013]]

species' ecology (e.g., able to fly high and travel far distances).

Occupied and Potential Occupied Areas

    The Florida bonneted bat has been recorded in various habitat types 
and locations in south and southwest Florida (see Table 1 and Habitat, 
above) (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008a, 2008b, 2012a, 2013a-d; Marks and 
Marks 2008a, pp. 13-14; 2008b, pp. 2-5; 2008c, pp. 1-28; 2012, pp. 1-
22; Smith 2010, pp. 1-4; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2011a, 2011b, 2012b-h; in 
litt. 2012; M. Owen, pers. comm. 2012, 2012b; R. Rau, pers. comm. 2012; 
Maehr 2013, pp. 1-13; S. Maehr, pers. comm. 2013a-c; K. Relish, pers. 
comm. 2013; F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013a-c; B. Scofield, pers. comm. 
2013a-f; K. Smith, pers. comm. 2013). Still, no actual colony locations 
or roost sites other than occupied bat houses are currently known, and 
large information gaps in the species' ecology currently exist. 
Roosting and foraging behavior and habitat are not fully understood. It 
is not known how far individuals travel from roosting locations to 
forage or to fulfill other needs. Dietary requirements, colony 
composition, movement between roosts or among colonies, and many other 
basic aspects of the species' life history are poorly understood. 
Despite these uncertainties, there is evidence that the species 
occupies at least portions of five south and southwest Florida counties 
(Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties) within the 
core of its range as explained below. In addition, there is additional 
evidence that the species occupies portions of south-central Florida 
(Polk and Okeechobee Counties) (Marks and Marks 2008b, pp. 2, 5; 2008c, 
pp. 11, 17; B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a-f). Areas adjacent to or 
near these locations may also be occupied.
Core Areas

Charlotte County

    Babcock-Webb WMA--Florida bonneted bats have consistently used this 
area since 2008 (J. Myers, pers. comm. 2013). The colonies at Babcock-
Webb WMA are the only known roosts on public lands and effectively 
tripled the number of known active colonies (N. Douglass, pers. comm. 
2009). The 33 individuals recorded in 2009 appeared to be the largest 
single discovery of the species recorded in recent years (N. Douglass, 
pers. comm. 2009). In 2010, monitoring by FWC indicated approximately 
25 individuals at 2 additional bat houses, bringing the potential total 
at Babcock-Webb WMA to 58 individuals, occupying 4 roosts (J. 
Birchfield, pers. comm. 2010). In 2012-2013, periodic simultaneous 
counts conducted on 4 occasions showed 39 to 43 individuals using 3 to 
5 separate roosts (all bat houses) (J. Myers, pers. comm. 2013). In 
addition, FWC biologists report also hearing Florida bonneted bat calls 
in the vicinity of red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees on site (J. 
Myers, pers. comm. 2012a). The species is likely also using natural 
roosts sites within the area (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 13, 15; P. 
Halupa, pers. obs. 2013; M. Knight, pers. comm. 2013).
    Babcock Ranch Preserve--Florida bonneted bat calls recorded at 
Telegraph Swamp at Babcock Ranch Preserve in 2007 are believed to 
represent separate colonies from those at Babcock-Webb WMA (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. A9; 2012, p. 13).
    Other Potential Areas--The FDEP also suggested that the species may 
occur at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park (P. Small, pers. comm. 
2012).

Lee County

    North Fort Myers--Florida bonneted bats have continually used bat 
houses on one private property since December 2002 (S. Trokey, pers. 
comm. 2006a, 2012a, 2013; Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 7). This was the 
first record of this species using a bat house as a roost and the only 
known location of an active colony roost located on private land (S. 
Trokey, pers. comm. 2006a; Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 7-15). The colony 
had included approximately 20 to 24 individuals in 2 houses (S. Trokey, 
pers. comm. 2008a, 2008b), but only 10 remained by April 2010, after 
the prolonged cold temperatures in January and February 2010 (S. 
Trokey, pers. comm. 2010a-c) (see also Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species, Factor E, below). In May 2011, 20 Florida bonneted bats were 
found using this site (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2011). In February 2012, 
18 individuals were found (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2012a), and in March 
2013, 20 individuals were found (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2013).
    Other Potential Areas--Florida bonneted bat calls have also been 
heard elsewhere in the rural North Fort Myers area, approximately 6 to 
8 km (4 to 5 mi) south of Babcock-Webb WMA (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 
2013).

Collier County

    Naples--Available data from a single fixed site suggest that the 
species is present in the area (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008a; Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 11; 2012, p. 13).
    Florida Panther NWR--In 2013, Florida bonneted bats calls were 
recorded at 9 of 13 locations, primarily in areas of the largest open 
water and in the area of the Fakahatchee Strand that bisects the refuge 
(Maehr 2013, pp. 7-9; S. Maehr, pers. comm. 2013a-c).
    FSPSP--Florida bonneted bat calls have been heard and recorded 
throughout the year from several locations and habitat types within the 
FSPSP from 2000 to present (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 6, 11; M. Owen, 
pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b; R. Rau, pers. comm. 2012; K. Relish, pers. 
comm. 2013).
    PSSF--Florida bonneted bats have been detected at nine locations 
within PSSF (K. Smith, pers. comm. 2013). A juvenile male was captured 
in a mist net above a canal in PSSF in 2009, but no other Florida 
bonneted bats were captured during additional trapping efforts (14 trap 
nights) (K. Smith, pers. comm. 2010; Smith 2010, p. 1). In addition to 
the captured individual, the species was heard while mist netting at 
eight other locations (K. Smith, pers. comm. 2013).
    BCNP--Calls have been recorded at various locations by multiple 
parties (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008b, 2012a, 2013a-d; Marks and Marks 
2008a, pp. 11, A12-A14; 2012, pp. 13-14; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012g). 
Survey efforts from 2003 and 2007 by one contractor recorded presence 
at several locations (S. Snow, pers. comm. 2012g). However, results of 
the rangewide survey in 2006-2007 recorded only one call at Deep Lake 
in 12 nights of surveys (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008b; Marks and Marks 
2008a, pp. 11, A12-A14). In 2012, five calls were recorded at Cal 
Stone's camp during 2 nights of surveys (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2012a; 
Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 13-14). Presence was also recorded at seven 
locations within BCNP in late 2012 through mid-2013 (R. Arwood, pers. 
comm. 2013a-d). This latter study employed longer listening intervals 
and multiple survey nights at each site (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2012b).
    Everglades City--Available data suggest that the species is present 
in the area (R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2008a; Marks and Marks 2012, p. 
14).
    Ten Thousand Islands area--The Florida bonneted bat was detected at 
Dismal Key in Ten Thousand Islands NWR in 2000 (Timm and Genoways 2004, 
p. 861; B. Nottingham, pers. comm. 2006; T. Doyle, pers. comm. 2006; C. 
Marks, pers. comm. 2006c; Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 6). Calls were not 
recorded during the 2006-2007 survey in areas searched by boat from 
Dismal Key to Port of the Islands (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 11, 14, 
A9). However, Florida bonneted bat calls

[[Page 61014]]

were reportedly heard by a volunteer at Port of the Islands (R. Arwood, 
pers. comm. 2012b).
    Other Potential Areas--In November 2007, the species was observed 
along U.S. 41 at Collier-Seminole State Park (S. Braem, pers. comm. 
2012). The FDEP also suggested that the species may occur at Delnor-
Wiggins Pass State Park (P. Small, pers. comm. 2012).

Monroe County

    ENP (coastal)--In 2012, only one Florida bonneted bat call was 
recorded at Darwin's Place in ENP in 18 survey nights in areas searched 
from Flamingo to Everglades City (Marks and Marks 2012, pp. 8, 14, 
A50). Darwin's Place is approximately 4.8 km (3 mi) from Watson's 
Place, where another researcher (Laura Finn, Fly-By-Night) had recorded 
10 Florida bonneted bat calls in 2007 (Marks and Marks 2012, p. 14; S. 
Snow, pers. comm. 2012h).
    Other Potential Areas--Other coastal and remote areas within ENP 
may support the species; however, additional surveys are needed.

Miami-Dade County

    ENP (mainland)--Acoustical surveys conducted on 80 nights from 
October 2011 to November 2012 by Skip Snow (pers. comm. 2012b-f; in 
litt. 2012) documented presence at several locations within ENP and 
surrounding locations (see Table 1). Results of the 2006-2008 survey 
did not detect Florida bonneted bat calls in the Long Pine Key area, 
which was thought to be the most likely location for the species (Marks 
and Marks 2008a, p. 10; 2012, p. 14). However, the species was 
subsequently recorded in the Long Pine Key area in 2011 and 2012 (S. 
Snow, pers. comm. 2011a, 2012f; in litt. 2012; Marks and Marks 2012, 
pp. 8, 14, 17).
    Homestead area--Calls recorded in the Homestead area in 2006 and in 
2008 suggest that one colony exists, possibly located east of U.S. 1 
(Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 11, A6-A7; 2008b, p. 5; 2012, p. 14).
    Coral Gables and Miami area--Florida bonneted bat calls have been 
consistently recorded in acoustical surveys at the Granada Golf Course 
in Coral Gables, but not elsewhere in the vicinity (Marks and Marks 
2008a, p. 6, A4; 2008b, pp. 1-6; 2012, p. 14). Since calls were 
recorded so shortly after sunset, the species may be roosting on or 
adjacent to the golf course (Marks and Marks 2012, p. 14). Calls 
recorded at Snapper Creek Park in south Miami in 2008, Zoo Miami in 
2011-2013, Larry and Penny Thompson Park and Martinez Preserve in 2012 
and 2013, FTBG in 2011 and 2012, and the L31-N canal in 2012 suggest 
that colonies are at or near these locations (Marks and Marks 2008b, 
pp. 1-2; 2012, pp. 1-22 and appendices; S. Snow, pers. comm. 2011b, 
2012b-f; Ridgley 2012, p. 1; F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013a-c). At Zoo 
Miami and Larry and Penny Thompson Park, all early evening calls have 
been recorded at the edge of a tract of intact pine rockland (F. 
Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b).
    Other Potential Areas--Other undeveloped areas within the Richmond 
Pinelands likely also provide habitat (J. Maguire, in litt. 2012). 
These may include Federal land holdings (i.e., owned by the U.S. Coast 
Guard, the U.S. Army, and General Services Administration), large 
parcels owned by the University of Miami, or other areas (J. Maguire, 
in litt. 2012).
Non-Core Areas

Polk County

    KICCO WMA--Florida bonneted bat calls were recorded along the 
Kissimmee River in in May 2008 (Marks and Marks 2008b, p. 2; 2008c, pp. 
11, 17). Documented presence along the Kissimmee River was significant 
as this was the first time the species had been detected north of Lake 
Okeechobee, except in fossil records, and effectively extended the 
known range 80 km (50 mi) north (Marks and Marks 2008b, pp. 2, 5; 
2008c, pp. 1-28).
    APAFR--Florida bonneted bat calls were recorded at two of 13 
locations on APAFR in 2013 (B. Scofield, pers. comm. 2013a-f). These 
findings are significant because they provide additional evidence of 
current presence in the northern part of the species' range, where 
survey information is generally lacking.
    Other Potential Areas--Areas along the Kissimmee or other areas 
within Polk County (and possibly adjacent counties) may support the 
species; however, additional surveys are needed.

Okeechobee County

    Kissimmee River Public Use Area--Florida bonneted bat calls were 
recorded at Platt's Bluff along the Kissimmee River in Okeechobee 
County in May 2008 (Marks and Marks 2008b, p. 2; 2008c, pp. 11, 17).
    Other Potential Areas--Areas along the Kissimmee River or other 
areas within Okeechobee County (and possibly adjacent counties) may 
support the species; however, additional surveys are needed.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule published on October 4, 2012 (77 FR 60750), we 
requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the 
proposal by December 3, 2012. We also contacted appropriate Federal and 
State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other 
interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. Notices 
inviting general public comment were published in the following Florida 
newspapers: The Miami Herald, Naples Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, The 
Palm Beach Post, The News-Press (based in Fort Myers), Charlotte Sun 
and Englewood Sun (based in Charlotte County), and The Ledger (based in 
Lakeland) on Sunday, October 14, 2012. We did not receive any requests 
for a public hearing.
    During the comment period for the proposed rule, we received 37 
comment letters (from 39 entities) directly addressing the proposed 
listing of the Florida bonneted bat as an endangered species, including 
the finding that critical habitat was prudent, but not determinable. 
With regard to listing the Florida bonneted bat as an endangered 
species, 28 comments were in support, four were in opposition, and five 
were neutral. With regard to critical habitat, five comment letters 
expressed opinions. Of these, three peer reviewers stated that more 
information was needed to determine critical habitat, and two 
environmental groups indicated that such designation should be a timely 
goal or completed promptly. All substantive information provided during 
the comment period has either been incorporated directly into this 
final determination or is addressed below.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from 10 individuals with 
recognized expertise on bats, particularly molossids, as well as 
general expertise on bat ecology and conservation. We received 
responses from six of the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments we received from peer reviewers for 
substantive and new information regarding the listing of the Florida 
bonneted bat as an endangered species. The peer reviewers generally 
concurred with our methods and conclusions, and provided additional 
information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final rule. 
Of the six reviews we received, three reviewers commented on critical 
habitat and agreed that additional information was needed to help 
define critical habitat. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the 
following summary and

[[Page 61015]]

incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    This section focuses on comments from peer reviewers and our 
responses to them. However, we have also included other public comments 
in this section (referred to as ``other commenters'' or ``commenters'') 
if those comments were related in topic to peer reviewer comments.
Comments Related to the Species and Its Ecology
    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer, who first recognized the unique 
morphological and genetic population of bonneted bats in southern and 
southwestern Florida merited recognition as a full species rather than 
a subspecies, reconfirmed the information summarized in the proposed 
rule as it related to taxonomy and stated that the Florida bonneted bat 
is clearly a ``distinctive'' species. He indicated that he has 
personally examined all of the specimens of the species deposited in 
the world's scientific collections, and that he and his colleagues have 
conducted the morphological and genetic studies comparing and 
contrasting this species to other species of Eumops and other 
molossids.
    Another reviewer with expertise in systematics and evolutionary 
biology related to mammals, who has published articles on the 
evolutionary relationships of various Eumops species, also agreed with 
the interpretation of literature regarding systematics, evolution, and 
fossil data. She indicated that although nuclear (AFLP) and 
mitochondrial data do not demonstrate a distinct genetic signature when 
compared to Eumops from the Caribbean, the cranial and bacular (penile 
bone) morphology indicate that Eumops from Florida are unique and 
therefore merit specific status. She further suggested that genetic 
distances indicate that E. floridanus is a recent species, and this is 
confirmed by fossil evidence from the Pleistocene.
    This reviewer also provided a Master's thesis (Bartlett 2012, pp. 
1-33), which examined additional mitochondrial and nuclear data for the 
genus, but did not include additional nuclear data for E. floridanus. 
She indicated that the mitochondrial data in this thesis demonstrated 
the same results as those found in McDonough et al. 2008 that support 
E. floridanus having a similar mitochondrial DNA sequence signature as 
those from the Caribbean. In her view, the signature was likely a 
result of incomplete lineage sorting in the mitochondrial genomes of 
Eumops from the region and represented recently diverged taxa.
    Eight other commenters also indicated that the species is 
``evolutionarily distinct'' and ``unique enough to be considered a 
separate species.''
    Our Response: We appreciate the reviewers' confirmation that Eumops 
floridanus is unique and continue to affirm that the taxon is distinct 
at the species level, based upon the best scientific information 
available and peer review of that information. We acknowledge the 
recent thesis (Bartlett 2012, pp. 1-33) and subsequent paper (Bartlett 
et al. 2013, pp. 867-880), but they do not alter our conclusions. 
Bartlett (2012, p. 13) and Bartlett et al. (2013, pp. 875-876) 
acknowledged that E. floridanus is distinguished from other members of 
the E. glaucinus complex based upon several features as described by 
Timm and Genoways (2004). However, based upon examination of the 
cytochrome-b dataset, researchers found a low level of sequence 
divergence among and between E. ferox and E. floridanus and incomplete 
separation of the two species; therefore, researchers suggested 
reevaluation of E. floridanus as a valid species. Additional 
morphological and genetic studies comparing and contrasting E. 
floridanus to other species of Eumops and other molossids will provide 
further insights into their relationships and phylogenies.
    (2) Comment: One reviewer stated that the Florida bonneted bat's 
life history is very poorly understood and emphasized that a critical 
factor to understand is reproductive approach. The reviewer stated that 
it is imperative to determine if the species is indeed polyestrous, as 
speculated. She also underscored the need to determine other metrics, 
such as genetic diversity and roosting ecology, in order to prioritize 
conservation measures in a recovery plan.
    Another reviewer stated that low reproductive rate and other 
factors (discussed below) make extinction highly probable. Nine 
commenters also expressed concern over low fecundity or slow population 
growth.
    Our Response: We agree that the life history of the species is 
poorly understood, and that determining the species' reproductive 
approach and other aspects of its life history and ecology (e.g., 
longevity, colony sizes, foraging and roosting preferences) will be 
essential to minimizing threats and conserving the species and its 
habitat. The FWC recently funded a large multi-year study that is 
expected to close some of the data gaps for the Florida bonneted bat. 
The ultimate goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of 
aspects of the Florida bonneted bat's biology to enable the development 
of recommendations for additional conservation measures for the species 
(Ober and McCleery 2012, p. 2). We believe this new study and other 
research will provide important data and insights and greatly aid in 
conservation of the species and its habitat.
    (3) Comment: Three reviewers and 11 commenters in support of the 
listing expressed concern over the species' restricted geographic range 
as a factor contributing to its imperilment. One reviewer stated that 
the Florida bonneted bat has the most restrictive range of any bat in 
the United States and suggested that a single storm (such as Hurricane 
Sandy) could kill most of the individuals over a fairly broad area. 
Another reviewer acknowledged the species' extremely restricted range, 
but disagreed with the statement that the Florida bonneted bat has the 
most restricted range of any Florida mammal.
    One reviewer stated that our understanding of the distribution of 
the species is extremely limited due to shortcomings of the surveys 
conducted to date and the high degree of variability in the temporal 
component of the survey effort. In her view, our proposed rule 
suggested that it is easy to survey through acoustical means; she 
emphasized that although the calls are distinctive, the short-duration 
listening intervals of many surveys may erroneously conclude that an 
area is not being used. Since bat activity can vary greatly at a single 
location both within and between nights (Hayes 1997, pp. 514-524; 2000, 
pp. 225-236), a lack of calls during a short listening period may not 
be indicative of lack of use. The variable duration of the listening 
periods of past surveys makes it difficult to make conclusions about 
changes in occupancy or activity levels over time and space.
    Another reviewer emphasized that the extent of the species' range 
must be determined to mitigate potential impacts from land use 
activities and to identify areas for priority conservation.
    Eight commenters in support of the proposed listing also noted that 
the species is ``geographically isolated.''
    Some in opposition to the proposed listing offered other views. One 
commenter noted that the recent surveys have documented the species in 
at least seven Florida counties, suggesting a range expansion. Another 
commenter indicated that the species' range is larger than previously 
understood and suggested additional surveys. The same commenter 
suggested

[[Page 61016]]

that range ``be properly defined'' through additional surveys in rural 
areas containing habitat similar to those areas where sightings have 
been recorded and that surveys be conducted over as many as 10 nights 
per survey region. The same commenter also suggested that a survey 
using Florida bonneted bat-optimized bat houses erected in strategic 
locations could also provide data related to the range east and west of 
the Kissimmee River basin. Another commenter did not think there was 
enough survey information available to establish range.
    One commenter, who did not express an opinion on the listing 
action, recommended that the Service design an echolocation survey 
protocol based on the best scientific data that defines survey seasons, 
duration of surveys, methodology, number of survey periods, and types 
of data to be collected. He recommended that the Service require 
surveys to be conducted in the core range prior to construction in 
natural habitats. In his view, additional echolocation data would 
provide evidence of presence/absence and that continued surveys over 
time in different locations would provide additional information on the 
species' distribution and habitat utilization. Mist netting was also 
suggested in combination with echolocation surveys.
    Our Response: Our understanding of the species' distribution, as 
well as its abundance, biology, and habitat preferences, would benefit 
from additional survey information and research. We acknowledge that 
the surveys conducted to date have been limited in scope and 
inconsistent in methods used. More robust study designs would account 
for sources of temporal, spatial, and sampling variation (Hayes 2000, 
pp. 225-236). Longer surveys at more locations over additional nights 
and seasons using more consistent methods would undoubtedly contribute 
to increasing understanding. Surveys that are longer in duration (e.g., 
conducted throughout the entire night) and repeated over several nights 
would help add confidence regarding potential use of an area. We note 
that some of the most recent studies (see Other Isolated Studies, 
above) are employing or have used such methods. Additional surveys 
along peripheral portions of the range could help to better define 
occupancy. See also Comment 4 and our response, below.
    In an effort to acquire more information, the Service purchased 
five acoustical recording devices in 2012, and we are working with 
numerous partners (BCNP, ENP, APAFR, FSPSP, FWC, Miami Zoo, FBC) to 
obtain and analyze additional data. For example, we are attempting to 
collect additional data along the northern extent of the species' known 
range; this could help determine if portions of Polk and Okeechobee 
Counties should also be considered part of the species' core range. 
Additional data from this area are key to determining if this is an 
apparent expansion of the species' known range. Recording devices are 
also being used in more places for longer periods of time over multiple 
nights in BCNP (see above, R. Arwood, pers. comm. 2013a-d). A new 
acoustical study was also conducted at the Florida Panther NWR, with 
the help and support of other NWRs in the southeast. We believe the 
additional data from multiple sources will be useful in better defining 
range and key to better understanding the species' biology, relative 
abundance, and habitat preferences.
    Although previous surveys have limitations, there is ample 
scientific evidence to indicate that the Florida bonneted bat has a 
very restricted range, perhaps one of the most restricted of any bat in 
the United States. We have made clarifications to the text regarding 
range and have more thoroughly discussed the limitations of surveys 
accordingly. The data indicate that the species' limited range 
contributes to its imperilment; some threats (e.g., hurricanes, climate 
change) have the potential to have severe consequences on the species 
and its habitat in a single widespread or regional event.
    We agree that an acoustical survey protocol or broader survey 
guidelines for the Florida bonneted bat should be established, and we 
intend to work towards that in cooperation with partners. A well-
defined protocol with consistent and repeated surveys, in combination 
with other studies, would help to better understand distribution, 
relative abundance, biology, and habitat preferences. See also Comment 
4 and our response, below.
    (4) Comment: Three peer reviewers and 13 commenters in support of 
the listing expressed concern over the apparent rarity or small 
population size as a factor contributing to its imperilment. Although 
the minimum viable population size is not known, one reviewer predicted 
a ``strong Allee effect'' (decline in individual fitness) at low 
population sizes due to at least two factors. First, offspring survival 
in bats is usually highly correlated with maternity colony size due to 
thermoregulation, and colony sizes for this species are relatively 
small. Thus, low survival is expected if females are roosting 
solitarily or in numbers fewer than 10 individuals. Second, roost sites 
function as information centers for many species of bats (e.g., the 
velvety free-tailed bat (Molossus molossus), see Dechmann et al. 2010). 
The reviewer's observations of one Florida bonneted bat colony 
suggested that the species is highly social, much like Brazilian free-
tailed bats (Bohn et al. 2008, pp. 1838-1848), which may have an effect 
on viability at low population sizes.
    One reviewer acknowledged that the Service and its partners may be 
unable to confidently estimate a population size for the Florida 
bonneted bat and noted that challenges arise when trying to estimate 
population size for organisms that are ``cryptic, volant, elusive, 
rare, and highly mobile.'' She suggested that when detection 
probabilities are exceptionally low, erroneous population estimates and 
trends may result. Her recommendation was to use alternate approaches, 
including patch occupancy models, which are more appropriate tools for 
estimating distribution trends.
    Another reviewer did not believe that population estimates could be 
derived from available data. In her view, there is no way to 
extrapolate from surveys conducted along roads to areas without roads 
that were not surveyed or from conservation areas that were surveyed to 
private agricultural areas that were not surveyed. She specifically 
indicated that due to the immense areas that were not surveyed, the 
short duration of many listening periods, and the lack of randomization 
when selecting survey sites, it could not be said that ``it is not 
likely that abundance is appreciably larger than the current available 
population estimates given.''
    Other commenters in opposition to the proposed listing offered 
different views. One commenter objected to listing the species as 
endangered due to the lack of good population studies. He argued that 
with no known roosting areas and just a few known sightings, there was 
not enough evidence to declare the bat endangered. One commenter 
indicated that it is difficult to have a reliable estimate of current 
population, given the limitations of sampling, including limitations in 
detection from ultrasonic devices and the high-flying habits of the 
species. This commenter endorsed the suggestion provided by another 
commenter who had recommended that the Service design an echolocation 
survey protocol. Another commenter stated that the surveys cannot be 
used to establish abundance or range, due to so few surveys being 
conducted, surveys mainly being conducted in open areas,

[[Page 61017]]

and the vast areas of potential habitat that have not been surveyed.
    Another commenter indicated that the population size for the 
Florida bonneted bat is much larger than originally estimated based 
upon 12 new sightings since 2008. The same commenter used the new 
information to negate criteria used within the State's biological 
status review, suggesting that data were ignored. This commenter 
suggested that the survey intensity for many parts of Florida were 
insufficient, and that every time a survey has been performed 
additional sightings have been recorded in new locations.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the survey information available 
to date is limited in many regards, and that it is not possible to 
estimate population size on this information alone. We have added 
clarifications regarding the limitations and short-comings of the 
acoustical surveys and have re-examined how we use this information. It 
was not our intent to imply that population estimates were derived 
purely or directly from acoustical surveys. We have made adjustments to 
the text and tried to more clearly articulate that the population 
estimates are only relative numbers of abundance, largely based upon 
expert opinions and inferences from available data. We are unable to 
confidently estimate population size for this species at this time.
    Our understanding of the species' abundance, as well as its 
distribution, biology, and habitat preferences, would benefit from 
additional survey information and research (see Comment 3 and our 
response, above). We agree that it would be beneficial to use patch 
occupancy models and other approaches to estimating distribution 
trends. We agree that it would be helpful to have more randomized 
surveys, longer listening periods, more areas surveyed, and repeated 
surveys. We intend to work with our partners on an acoustical survey 
protocol design, which if employed consistently, could improve the 
quality of information obtained in the future.
    The best available scientific information and the majority of 
expert opinions indicate that the Florida bonneted bat population is 
relatively small (see Population Estimates and Status and Acoustical 
Survey Efforts as Indicators of Rarity, above) and the species' 
apparent low abundance is a major factor in its overall imperilment 
(see Factor E, Effects of Small Population Size, Isolation, and Other 
Factors, below). We have revised the above sections to clarify and 
better explain uncertainty and limitations of available information.
    (5) Comment: One reviewer acknowledged that the foraging behavior 
of the Florida bonneted bat has not been studied in detail and provided 
insights into probable foraging behavior based upon its morphology. She 
stated that molossids are highly adapted for hawking high-flying 
insects (Norberg and Rayner 1987) and are characterized by high aspect 
ratios, high wing loadings, long pointed wingtips, and use of low 
frequency narrowband echolocation calls, which collectively make them 
well-suited for fast flight at high altitudes and prey detection at 
long distances, relative to other bats. The reviewer pointed out that 
species with these morphological features are considered to be adapted 
for low cost, swift, long distance travel from roost sites to foraging 
areas. In her view, these morphological characteristics and 
echolocation call structure likely preclude their ability to maneuver 
or detect prey at short range in cluttered conditions, given their 
large turning radius and the limited information obtained through the 
use of low frequency, narrowband echolocation calls. Therefore, she 
surmised that it seems likely that foraging areas may be located fairly 
long distances from roost sites, and that foraging likely occurs either 
at high altitudes or in fairly open habitat.
    Another reviewer noted that the Florida bonneted bat is a molossid, 
which ``consists of high flying bats capable of dispersing great 
distances''. She recommended a study that identifies home ranges and 
habitat affinities to determine the physical and biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species.
    The NPS (ENP) commented on an effort to better understand foraging 
behavior and foraging habitat. A biologist from ENP reviewed all 
acoustic files available, from 2000 to present, which were identified 
as belonging to the Florida bonneted bat to better understand foraging 
habitat. Review of these files did not reveal any definitive ``feeding 
buzzes'', a feature presumed indicative of successful foraging in other 
bats. Biologists in south Florida conducting acoustical surveys were 
also queried by ENP, and they confirmed that they had yet to identify a 
feeding buzz attributable to the Florida bonneted bat. In this view, 
the ecomorphology of the Florida bonneted bat, and Eumops spp. in 
general, suggests a bat that flies high, relatively fast, and quite 
possibly far. Those characteristics confound acoustic detection, 
including capturing feeding events as indicated by the ``feeding 
buzz.'' ENP believes that it is not unreasonable to consider that the 
Florida bonneted bat may forage some of the time and perhaps frequently 
at altitudes beyond the range of detection by acoustic survey 
equipment.
    Another commenter argued that since the species forages at heights 
of 10 m (33 ft) or more, it is possible that the species forages above 
canopied areas. This commenter contended that there was no information 
or extensive surveys from canopied areas and that actual foraging sites 
have not been scientifically determined.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the Florida bonneted bat's 
dispersal capabilities, foraging behavior, habitat affinities, and home 
ranges are not clearly understood. We agree that the Florida bonneted 
bat is likely capable of dispersing large distances and believe it may 
have considerable home ranges. For comparison, in one study in Arizona, 
Underwood's mastiff bat was found to range up to 24 km (15 mi) or more 
on foraging bouts from its roost site, suggesting that roost sites do 
not need to be available in close proximity to foraging areas (Tibbitts 
et al. 2002, p. 11). We have clarified the text accordingly (see 
Background, above).
    We agree that the species' morphological characteristics make it 
reasonable to assume that foraging areas may be located fairly long 
distances from roosts sites, and that foraging likely occurs either at 
high altitudes or in fairly open habitat. We do not dismiss the idea 
that foraging habitat may include canopied areas; the species may 
forage above, within, or adjacent to canopied areas. We agree that the 
lack of or limited number of ``feeding buzzes'' recorded to date may 
further suggest that the species forages at altitudes beyond the range 
of detection of acoustic survey equipment. The only set of ``feeding 
buzzes'' for the species that we are aware of were recorded at the 
Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables in late February 2013 (C. Marks, 
pers. comm. 2013).
    Additional studies are needed to more completely understand 
foraging behavior and habitat preferences. In future acoustical 
studies, it may be beneficial to sample vertical strata where possible, 
to determine activity and obtain additional insights into habitat use 
(Hayes 2000, p. 229). Placing recording devices at higher positions in 
the landscape (e.g., fire towers) may be helpful in determining if 
foraging is occurring at higher altitudes. Longer recording intervals, 
more survey locations, and additional analysis of echolocation data may 
be helpful in

[[Page 61018]]

identification of more ``feeding buzzes'' and improved understanding. 
The use of tracking devices such as transmitters, if tolerated by this 
species, may be extremely helpful to understanding movements, including 
insights into foraging distances and behavior. We note that the FWC 
recently funded a large multi-year study that is expected to close some 
of the data gaps for the Florida bonneted bat, including, in part, 
habitat selection. This study is expected to begin in January 2014 (H. 
Ober, pers. comm. 2013). Analysis of guano will be helpful in 
identifying prey items, assessing the availability of prey, and 
understanding foraging habitat. At this time, we are working with 
researchers and partners to conduct limited dietary analysis.
    (6) Comment: One reviewer commented extensively on roost site 
selection, stating that there is a high probability that Florida 
bonneted bat individuals would tend towards high roost site fidelity. 
She pointed to the work of Lewis (1995), who in her review, found that 
bats that roost in buildings tend to be more site-faithful than those 
that roost in trees, and that among the bats that roost in trees, those 
that use cavities in large trees tend to more site-faithful than those 
using smaller trees. Given its large size, this reviewer surmised that 
the Florida bonneted bat is likely to select large trees. She noted the 
large accumulation of guano in one known historical natural roost (1 m 
[3.3 ft] deep) provided further evidence of high roost fidelity, 
especially given the small number of individuals per colony. Although 
it is not known if the species more commonly uses tree cavities or 
buildings, the reviewer stated that the loss of a roost site is likely 
to cause a greater hardship to the species than the loss of a roost 
site for other, more labile (readily open to change) species. In her 
view, the threat imposed by the loss of individual roost sites was 
understated in the proposed rule.
    The same reviewer noted that larger roosts tend to have greater 
microclimatic variability within a roost than do smaller spaces, which 
could increase the relative importance of manmade roosts to the species 
as climate variability increases in the future. For example, she 
suggested that bats roosting in tree cavities may need to switch roosts 
in response to a cold spell, making them vulnerable to exposure, 
predation, or other threats, whereas individuals using larger buildings 
may be able to simply change locations within their roost. She pointed 
out that the species' use of anthropogenic structures may confer an 
adaptive advantage in the future and allows for the possibility of 
future habitat enhancement through the creation of additional 
artificial roosts with suitable characteristics, once determined.
    One reviewer indicated that since so little is known about this 
species' roosting habits, it is possible that palm fronds are used for 
roosting. In her view, it is imperative to determine roosting ecology 
and other metrics to prioritize conservation measures in a recovery 
plan. Another reviewer indicated that roost sites function as 
information centers for many species of bats, including the molossid, 
the velvety free-tailed bat (Dechmann et al. 2010).
    With regard to roosting sites, the FWC suggested clarification for 
the term ``key roosting sites'' or using simply using the term 
``roosting sites'' instead, indicating that there was no information to 
suggest that some roosting sites may be more critical than others.
    Eleven commenters in support of the listing also mentioned lack of 
roosting information. Several suggested that we know less about this 
species than when it was first considered for protection.
    Commenters in opposition to the proposed listing offered different 
views. Two commenters stated that there is not enough evidence to 
declare the bat endangered when we have such limited information 
regarding roosting areas or preferred roosting habitat. Another 
commenter believed the species' adaptability to human structures is a 
positive and questioned if the species has more roosting opportunities 
now than it did historically due to development.
    Our Response: We agree with views regarding roosting habits and 
believe that finding natural roosting sites and better understanding 
preferences is crucial to conserving the species. The Florida bonneted 
bat may indeed have high roost site fidelity, as one reviewer 
suggested, and the loss of any roost site for this species may have 
profound consequences. We agree that it is likely that all roost sites 
are important and clarified the importance of roosting sites 
accordingly. See also Comment 4 and our response, above.
    We agree that the species' ability to adapt to artificial 
structures can be beneficial in some regards. For example, artificial 
structures may provide potential suitable roost sites in areas where 
natural roost sites are lacking, limited, or inadequate. However, we 
caution against the mindset that artificial structures can equally 
replace natural roosts. More research on the role of bat houses in the 
conservation of the species is needed (FWC 2013, pp. 10-11). Artificial 
structures may be more likely to be disturbed, may be more prone to 
vandalism, and may or may not be maintained.
    We disagree with the views opposing the listing due to lack of 
information on preferred roosting habitats. Listing decisions are based 
upon all available data and information and threats (see Background, 
above, and Summary of Factors Affecting the Species and Determination 
of Status, below). While there may be more artificial roosting 
opportunities available now due to development, we do not have data 
that indicate the species has more suitable roosting sites overall. 
Natural roost sites have undoubtedly been lost due to changes in land 
use (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor A), and 
competition for tree cavities has increased (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factor E, Competition for Tree Cavities, and 
Comment 9 and our response, below). Additionally, changes in building 
codes may have reduced opportunities in some artificial structures (see 
Comment 11 and our response, below).
    We acknowledge that we do not fully understand roosting habitat 
preferences, but we are working with partners to locate roosts and 
better understand the ecology of the species. Additional acoustical 
data are being collected from more sites for longer periods of time. In 
February 2013, we worked with Auburn University and numerous land 
managers and partners across south Florida to use trained scent 
detection dogs in an effort to identify and locate potential natural 
roosts. The dogs showed interest in several large cavity trees and 
snags. Follow-up work (e.g., acoustical surveys, infrared cameras, 
cavity inspection, guano collection) is being conducted to determine if 
Florida bonneted bats or other bat species are using these trees and 
snags as roosts. To date, no active, natural roosts for the Florida 
bonneted bat have been confirmed.
Comments Relating to Threats
    (7) Comment: Three reviewers and 11 commenters in support of the 
listing remarked on habitat loss, modification, or curtailment of 
range. One reviewer stated that loss of habitat, especially forested 
areas, is among the most important threats. Another reviewer stated 
that the loss of individual roost sites (from exclusion, demolition, 
tree harvest, or other factors) was understated in the proposed rule 
because of suspected high roost fidelity. Another reviewer stated that 
habitat loss, degradation, alteration, and fragmentation are 
significant threats; in

[[Page 61019]]

order to mitigate potential impacts from land use activities and to 
identify areas for priority conservation actions, the extent of the 
species' range must be determined.
    One commenter, writing on behalf of an environmental group with 
more than 4,000 members with a focus in southwest Florida, stated that 
the species faces continued threats from habitat loss and specifically 
from several proposed large-scale developments, mines, and 
transportation projects. The group highlighted proposed projects in 
their five-county area of focus (i.e., Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades, 
and Charlotte), stating that thousands of acres of impacts are expected 
in a variety of habitat types. In Charlotte County, the group 
specifically noted the Babcock Ranch Community (encompassing over 
17,000 acres (ac)) and the Burnt Store Area Plan near Punta Gorda would 
allow mixed use development within an area thousands of acres in size. 
In Hendry County, it noted the Rodina sector plan (encompassing 26,000 
ac), the King's Ranch/Consolidated Citrus sector plan (at least 15,000 
ac), and the Hendry County Clean Energy Center (more than 3,000 ac). In 
Lee and Collier Counties, it referenced pending and potential mines 
totaling tens of thousands of acres. In this group's view, the most 
significant action was the Eastern Collier Multispecies Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP), which it stated, if permitted as proposed, 
would authorize 45,000 ac of residential and commercial development. 
Additionally, the group contended that an ``untold number of acres of 
potential bat habitat would be lost'' to multiple land uses, including 
mining, oil and gas exploration/production, agriculture, 
infrastructure, transportation, and active and passive recreation. It 
also noted that the Collier County Rural Lands Stewardship Program is 
voluntary and does not protect some areas that may be important to 
bats.
    With regard to issuing permits, the same group contended that since 
the Service cannot effectively determine the conservation measures 
needed to conserve the species and protect it from no net loss, the 
agency should not issue a take permit. Rather, it recommended that the 
Service and its partners focus efforts on collecting additional 
information to map essential habitat areas for this species. In this 
view, only with this information could the Service properly assess 
jeopardy under section 10 or section 7 of the Act. In conclusion, the 
group fears ``the species is routinely placed in jeopardy''.
    Another commenter, writing on behalf of its organization with more 
than 450,000 members and activists, provided extensive comments on 
climate change and contended that the Florida bonneted bat faces 
significant risks from coastal squeeze, which occurs when habitat is 
pressed between rising sea levels and coastal development that prevents 
landward movement (Scavia et al. 2002; FitzGerald et al. 2008; Defeo et 
al. 2009; LeDee et al. 2010; Menon et al. 2010; Noss 2011). The group 
contended that human responses to sea level rise (e.g., coastal 
armoring and landward migration) (Defeo et al. 2009, pp. 6-8) also pose 
significant risk to bat habitat, and projected human population growth 
and development in Florida threaten urban roosting sites with coastal 
squeeze, particularly in North Fort Myers, Naples, Homestead, and Coral 
Gables/Miami (Zwick and Carr 2006).
    One commenter, who did not express support or opposition to the 
proposed listing action, suggested that habitat development continues 
in the species' range and the Service should require that surveys be 
conducted in the core range before construction in natural habitat is 
undertaken.
    Our Response: We agree that habitat loss, modification, and 
fragmentation are serious threats. The loss of forested habitat is 
particularly concerning due to the species' forest-dwelling habits. We 
agree that the loss of individual roosts may have been understated in 
the proposed rule and have clarified the text accordingly (see also 
Comment 6 and our response, above). We also acknowledge that we need to 
work with partners to more fully understand the species' range for more 
meaningful conservation.
    Large-scale habitat losses in the core of the species' range are 
particularly concerning. Land use changes at smaller scales may also 
have individual or cumulative adverse impacts to the species. With this 
final rule, the Federal protections provided by the Act for this 
species (see Available Conservation Measures, below) are implemented. 
This includes evaluation of the impacts of activities and consultation 
under section 7 of the Act, prohibition of unauthorized take under 
section 9 of the Act, and allowances for incidental take with habitat 
conservation plans through the section 10 process. With this final 
listing, proposed actions will be thoroughly evaluated through the 
section 7 or section 10 process. With regard to the Eastern Collier 
Multispecies HCP, as of July 2013, the applicants have submitted 
incidental take permit applications, but remain in the process of 
developing a draft HCP. The Service has awarded grant funding through 
its Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund to assist in the 
development of the HCP. This proposed project, like others within the 
species' current range, will be evaluated through the regulatory 
framework provided by the Act.
    We agree that coastal squeeze is a major problem, which will 
accelerate in the future. We have revised the text to more fully 
describe anticipated impacts (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species, Factor A, Alternative Future Landscape Models and Coastal 
Squeeze, below, and Comments 8, 11, 16, and 20, and our responses to 
them, below).
    We agree that surveys for the species should be conducted prior to 
large-scale land use changes within key natural habitats (e.g., forests 
or water bodies) within the core range. We intend on working on an 
acoustical survey protocol and broader survey guidelines, as indicated 
above (see Comments 3 and 4, and our responses to them, above). 
However, due to the difficulties in detection of this species, repeated 
acoustical surveys for long periods of time may be needed. Acoustical 
surveys, in combination with visual and other inspection of potential 
roosting locations, may be helpful to avoid or minimize some impacts to 
suspected roost sites. In some cases, bat activity and potential roosts 
can be recognized (e.g., observation at emergence, vocalizations (roost 
chatter), presence of ``ammonia''-like smell or guano). In cases where 
acoustical surveys and other methods are not feasible, applicants and 
agencies may need to assume presence prior to assessing impacts for 
proposed projects and incorporate safeguards into their project 
designs.
    (8) Comment: With regard to foraging habitat and climate change, 
one reviewer indicated that our assessment understated the negative 
impact of climate change on prey availability. She indicated that plant 
water stress would impact vegetation community structure, which would 
likely affect insect availability for foraging bats. She also stated 
that plant water stress would also affect the actual chemical 
composition of plants, which also would impact the phenology of 
phytophagous insects (i.e., those that feed on plants) and therefore 
the timing of insect availability to foraging bats. She provided a 
reference showing responses by plants and insects from experimentally 
induced water deficits (Huberty and Denno 2004) and another that showed 
that climate change is affecting the timing of seasonal flowering in 
Florida (Von Holle et al. 2010). The reviewer stated that climate

[[Page 61020]]

change will alter prey availability to foraging bats.
    Our Response: With regard to water deficits caused by climate 
change, we acknowledge that we did not specifically evaluate the 
responses by plants and potential impacts to insects and ramifications 
to foraging bats in any detail. However, we briefly discussed the 
species' susceptibility to changes in prey availability and possible 
changes from climate change (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species, Factor E, Aspects of the Species' Life History and Climate 
Change Implications, below). Since the reviewer's comments relate to 
changes to foraging habitat, we have expanded the section (see Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor A, Climate Change and Sea 
Level Rise, below) to more fully evaluate this threat. The potential 
negative impact of climate change on prey availability is now more 
fully described in this final rule. Additional comments relating to 
climate change are provided below (see Comments 11 and 16, and our 
responses to them, below).
    (9) Comment: One reviewer indicated that the Florida bonneted bat 
faces competition for tree cavities from native birds and mammals 
(Belwood 1992, p. 220) and now dozens of introduced species, which also 
use cavities (e.g., European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), various 
parrot species, black rats (Rattus rattus), and Africanized honey bees 
(Apis mellifera scutellata)). He also suggested that the Florida 
bonneted bat populations may also be impacted by the decline of red-
cockaded woodpeckers, which create cavities in living longleaf pine 
trees.
    One commenter suggested that the species' roosting habits were 
``more precarious'' than its small range. He noted the limited supply 
of woodpecker nest cavities and indicated that invasive species have a 
significant impact on the Florida bonneted bat by competing for limited 
roosting locations. In his view, introduced parrots are serious 
competitors for natural and manmade cavities, as most of the more than 
30 species of parrots and 2 to 3 species of mynahs observed in the wild 
in south Florida use cavities. He indicated that Africanized honey bee 
hybrids, established in Florida in 2005, are having significant impacts 
on cavity-nesting wildlife throughout their expanding range (in Central 
America, South America, the Caribbean, and southeastern United States). 
He stated that Africanized honey bee hybrids occupy the entire range of 
the Florida bonneted bat. The commenter suggested that research to 
develop methods of reducing honey bee competition for cavities with 
barn owls and parrots was underway, and that techniques may be 
transferable to Florida bonneted bat roosting structures.
    Our Response: We agree that tree cavities in south Florida are 
likely limited and that competition for natural or artificial roosting 
structures may be greater now than previously, due to a variety of 
factors. Introduced species are becoming more abundant and widespread 
in Florida, and some are likely contributing to increased competition 
for a limited amount of suitable cavities or other roost sites. We have 
added a new section entitled Competition for Tree Cavities (see Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, below).
    We do not have information to support or refute the view that the 
decline of red-cockaded woodpeckers (or other woodpeckers) may be 
affecting Florida bonneted bat populations. One colony of Florida 
bonneted bats was discovered in a longleaf pine tree cavity that had 
been excavated by a red-cockaded woodpecker and later enlarged by a 
pileated woodpecker (Belwood 1981, p. 412). In general, insufficient 
numbers of cavities and continuing net loss of cavity trees are also 
identified threats to the red-cockaded woodpecker (Service 2006, p. 7).
    To help conserve the Florida bonneted bat, efforts should be made 
to retain large cavity trees and snags wherever possible to reduce 
competition for suitable roosts within the species' known range. The 
use of artificial structures for the Florida bonneted bat may also be 
beneficial in some locations. More research on the role of bat houses 
in Florida bonneted bat conservation is needed (FWC 2013, pp. 10, 15). 
The FWC plans on working with stakeholders to develop and implement 
guidelines for building, installing, and monitoring bat houses for 
Florida bonneted bats (FWC 2013, pp. 10-11).
    (10) Comment: One reviewer noted that since the species may use 
palm fronds for roosting, the trimming of palm fronds and removal of 
mature palms for landscaping purposes may cause negative impacts. In 
her view, these activities should be considered as potential threats.
    Our Response: We agree and have clarified the text accordingly (see 
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, Inadvertent and 
Purposeful Impacts from Humans, below).
    (11) Comment: Three reviewers and four commenters indicated that 
hurricanes, storms, or other stochastic events are threats to the 
species and its habitat. One reviewer emphasized the threat of 
hurricanes as direct killing of bats and impacts to larger hollow trees 
and bat houses. He noted the intensity and increasing damage of 
tropical storms and contended that one large, intense storm (similar to 
Hurricane Sandy in the northeast) could kill most of the Florida 
bonneted bats over a broad area.
    Another reviewer indicated that hurricanes may become more frequent 
and intense with climate change. She suggested that the species may 
occupy large snags with cavities, and that these trees and artificial 
structures are likely to be damaged or destroyed during serious storm 
events. She recommended that bat house structures be reinforced and 
duplicated to prevent loss.
    One group cited additional studies that show that the frequency of 
high-severity hurricanes is increasing in the Atlantic (Elsner et al. 
2008; Bender et al. 2010; Kishtawal et al. 2012), along with an 
increased frequency of hurricane-generated large surge events (Grinsted 
et al. 2012) and wave heights (Komar and Allan 2008). The group 
contended that high winds, waves, and storm surge can cause significant 
damage to the species' coastal habitat, noting that when storm surges 
coincide with high tides, the chances for damage are greatly increased 
(Cayan et al. 2008). Examples and additional references regarding sea 
level rise, storm surge, and flooding were also provided. This group 
stated that the Service must take into account the added impacts from 
more severe hurricanes and increasing storm surge and coastal flooding 
on the species' habitat. Another commenter also noted that severe 
hurricanes can cause wetland degradation.
    One commenter indicated that the limited supply of woodpecker nest 
cavities has been compounded by the loss of snags due to hurricanes 
(e.g., Hurricane Andrew 1994, hurricanes of 2004 and 2005). He added 
there has also been a ``secondary hurricane effect with significant 
changes to the South Florida Building Codes post Hurricane Andrew that 
reduces roosting locations under tile roofs.''
    Our Response: We agree that the species and its habitat appear 
highly vulnerable to hurricanes and storms. Intense events could kill 
or injure individual bats and destroy limited roosting habitat (see 
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, Environmental 
Stochasticity, below). Even one event can have devastating impacts due 
to the species' restricted range. Increased frequency and intensity of 
hurricanes, storm surges, and

[[Page 61021]]

flooding events are also expected with climate change. We have revised 
portions of our assessment accordingly (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factors A and E below). See also detailed 
comments on climate change in Comment 16 and our response, below.
    We believe that natural roost sites are limiting and that the use 
of artificial structures can play an important role in conserving the 
species. We concur with the suggestion that bat houses be reinforced 
and duplicated to prevent loss.
    We do not dispute the claim that changes to the South Florida 
Building Codes after Hurricane Andrew reduced potential roosting 
locations under tile roofs. However, it is not known the extent to 
which the species uses such structures. It is possible that changes in 
building codes affected roosting opportunities in residential and urban 
areas.
    (12) Comment: Two reviewers and the FWC remarked on predation as a 
threat to the species. One reviewer suggested that the loss of bats to 
snake predation is under appreciated, especially with the increasing 
numbers of introduced snakes, and recommended that additional measures 
be taken to protect bats and other native species. He also emphasized 
the fragile nature of the Florida bonneted bat populations, noting that 
although some are located on protected lands, these populations are 
still quite exposed to severe threats. Another reviewer noted that the 
species presumably experiences some level of predation from native 
wildlife (e.g., hawks, owls, raccoons, rat snakes), but that introduced 
reptiles (e.g., young Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) and 
boa constrictors (Boa constrictor)) may also have or will have an 
impact on the Florida bonneted bat population.
    The FWC questioned our conclusion that predation is not impacting 
the species and offered that a more conservative approach is that too 
little information exists to draw any conclusions about the impacts of 
predation.
    Our Response: We generally agree with the comments we received 
regarding predation and have adjusted the text accordingly (see Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor C. Disease or Predation, 
below).
    (13) Comment: One reviewer commented on white-nose syndrome (WNS) 
and noted that very little is known about the fungus, Geomyces 
destructans, and the disease. She suggested that the Florida bonneted 
bat may not be impacted by the disease, since it does not hibernate and 
the disease has only impacted hibernating species to date. However, she 
also cautioned that since the fungus is new to science and North 
America, how it may evolve and change is unknown. She urged that the 
Service be cautious and not assume that impacts will not occur in the 
future.
    Our Response: We agree and have updated the text of this final rule 
accordingly.
    (14) Comment: One reviewer stated that although the death of bats 
at wind energy facilities is fairly well documented, the numbers of 
bats killed is still considerably underappreciated. He stated that bats 
die in considerable numbers at wind turbines, and with the current push 
to develop greener energy sources, the loss of bats at wind turbines 
will increase.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the number of bats killed at wind 
energy facilities is not known, and that the extent of mortality, in 
some locations, may not be fully understood. Although increases in the 
number of wind energy facilities are likely to cause increases in bat 
mortality, numerous factors are involved (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factor E, Proposed Wind Energy Facilities, 
below). In some cases, impacts may be avoided and minimized. Available 
guidelines, if implemented, can help reduce bird and bat mortalities. 
We agree that this threat is likely to increase as demand increases, 
and we revised the text of this final rule accordingly.
    (15) Comment: One reviewer stated that ``the lack of regulatory 
mechanisms particularly when in contact with humans'' was among the 
most important potential threats to the species, emphasizing that 
public education about bats is crucial.
    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 
(FDACS), expressing neither support of nor opposition to the proposed 
listing, indicated that there may be opportunity to provide education 
and outreach to professional wildlife trappers and pest control 
operators ``to limit take of this imperiled species.'' FDACS offered to 
develop, with the help of FWC and the Service, an informational 
bulletin, which could be distributed to pest control operators either 
during training for certification or renewal. Additionally, information 
relating to the bat, including identification, could be incorporated as 
a component of training and exams for limited certification for 
commensal rodent control. The FDACS also expressed willingness to meet 
with the FWC and the Service to discuss training and outreach 
opportunities to educate wildlife trappers, law enforcement, county 
health departments, and local animal control on rules and regulations 
that are required to protect the Florida bonneted bat and other bat 
species.
    One commenter, in opposition to the proposed listing, suggested 
that development of educational programs and materials may be the most 
important conservation measure, citing Robson (1989). The same 
commenter recommended that the species not be listed and instead 
suggested that public education on the value and importance of bats be 
stressed. This commenter specifically recommended further education on 
appropriate bat house designs and the use of environmentally friendly 
lighting practices.
    Our Response: We believe that regulatory (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factor D, below) and other mechanisms to deal 
with bat and human interactions can be improved. We agree that 
education for the public and various groups is imperative, and that 
this should be an integral part of conservation efforts for the Florida 
bonneted bat. We appreciate both suggestions from the FDACS on ways to 
reduce the taking of this species during wildlife removal and pest 
control operations and their willingness to help raise awareness, 
improve training, and expand education. We look forward to working with 
partners on this.
    While expanded education and outreach programs are important 
components of conservation, the species meets the definition of an 
endangered species and faces numerous significant threats (see 
Determination of Status, below), many of which could not be alleviated 
through education alone. We are hopeful that improved awareness and 
education, along with the protections afforded to the species and 
habitat (see Available Conservation Measures, below), will allow the 
species to continue to persist and recover. See also Comment 32 and our 
response, below.
    (16) Comment: With regard to climate change, two reviewers provided 
specific comments. One reviewer felt that climate change has the 
potential to negatively impact the species, especially in the context 
of impacts from altered storm frequency and intensity. Another reviewer 
appeared to generally agree with our assessment of anticipated impacts 
from climate change, but indicated that the negative impact of climate 
change on prey availability had been understated.
    One group provided extensive comments and references. The group's 
main points included the following: (a)

[[Page 61022]]

Global sea-level rise is accelerating in pace and is likely to increase 
by one to two meters within the century; (b) sea-level rise of 1 to 2 
meters in south Florida is highly likely within this century; (c) 
storms and storm surges are increasing in intensity; (d) coastal 
squeeze threatens the species' habitat; (e) climate change threats 
should be analyzed through the year 2100 at minimum; and (f) sea-level 
rise will have significant impacts on Florida bonneted bat roost sites.
    More specifically, the group asserted that the Service analyze the 
impacts of sea-level rise of up to 2 meters on the Florida bonneted 
bat's habitat since this falls within the range of likely scenarios and 
since sea-level rise will be exacerbated by increasing storm surge. 
With regard to roost sites, the group estimated impacts to roost site 
locations from climate change, based upon the colony numbers and 
locations provided in the proposed rule and using NOAA's sea level rise 
and coastal flooding impacts viewer. Based upon this tool, the group 
suggested that 9 of 11 roost locations would either be fully or partly 
inundated with sea-level rises ranging from 30 centimeters (11.8 
inches) to 1.8 m (5.9 ft). This analysis highlights the ``extreme 
vulnerability'' of bonneted bat roosting habitat to sea-level rise.
    The group also provided additional comments with regard to critical 
habitat and climate change.
    Our Response: With regard to climate change, we agree with the 
general comments provided. The additional literature on climate change 
provided by one group largely reinforces our assessment of the threat 
of climate change to the Florida bonneted bat and its habitat. We 
appreciate the references provided and have revised our assessment 
accordingly.
    With regard to specific comments, we agree with the view that sea-
level rise is likely to have significant impacts on Florida bonneted 
bat roosts. However, the locations of natural roost sites and colony 
locations are not known (see also Comment 21 and our response, and 
Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule, below). Given the limited 
available information, it is not possible to quantify the number of 
roosting locations that will be impacted by sea-level rise. Still, we 
anticipate significant losses of occupied and potential occupied 
habitat in coastal areas due to climate change (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factor A, Climate Change and Sea Level Rise and 
Alternative Future Landscape Models and Coastal Squeeze, and Factor E, 
Aspects of the Species' Life History and Climate Change Implications, 
below). Portions of the species' roosting habitat are vulnerable to 
sea-level rise, and impacts to foraging habitat may also occur with 
climate change (see also Comment 8 and our response, above).
    Detailed comments related to storms and storm surges are provided 
and addressed above (see Comment 11 and our response, above). Detailed 
comments related to coastal squeeze are provided and addressed above 
(see Comment 7 and our response, above). We have revised portions of 
our assessment accordingly (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species, Factors A and E, below).
    Comments regarding climate change in relation to critical habitat 
are provided below (see Comment 20 and our response, below).
    (17) Comment: One reviewer stated that the species was not a widely 
distributed species prior to development in southern Florida in the 
past century, but the ``increased and indiscriminate use of pesticides 
in the 1950s-1960s no doubt started the species in decline.'' Other 
commenters offered alternate and more detailed views about pesticides.
    Our Response: We agree that the species appears to not have been 
widely distributed during the past century, based upon available 
information. However, we have no evidence indicating that the use of 
pesticides led to the species' decline (see Comments Relating to 
Pesticides, below).
    (18) Comment: One reviewer explicitly stated that listing the 
Florida bonneted bat as an endangered species will provide several 
benefits that will aid in the protection and possible recovery of the 
species. He pointed to conservation actions taken at Florida Caverns 
State Park in the 1990s for the endangered gray bat (Myotis 
grisescens), which would not have been implemented had it not been for 
Service funding made available through the Act.
    Our Response: We agree that listing provides many benefits for 
species and their habitats (see Available Conservation Measures, 
below).
Comments Relating to Critical Habitat
    (19) Comment: With regard to timing, three peer reviewers agreed 
with our finding that critical habitat was not determinable due to lack 
of knowledge or the need for more information. One reviewer stated that 
a study that identifies home ranges and habitat affinities is 
imperative to determining the physical and biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. In her view, designation 
of critical habitat is appropriate, but for it to be meaningful and 
effective, the extent of the species' range and the species' roosting 
affinities should be defined prior to designation. She indicated that 
if that was not possible, then additional future information that 
informs habitat use should be used to modify any critical habitat 
designation.
    Two commenters, both representing environmental groups, indicated 
that critical habitat designation should be a timely goal or completed 
promptly. One group specifically stated that the Service should seek 
the scientific information necessary to propose critical habitat 
promptly, and that until critical habitat can be identified and 
designated, the Eastern Collier Multispecies HCP should not move 
forward.
    Another group reminded the Service of its responsibilities under 
the Act, stating that a ``not determinable'' finding allows the Service 
to extend the time for designating critical habitat. Under the Act, the 
Service has 2 years from the date of the proposed listing decision (or, 
in this case, 1 year from the date of the final listing decision) to 
designate critical habitat. The group cited case law and stated that 
the deadlines apply even if longer deliberation would produce a 
``better'' critical habitat designation. In this view, ``not 
determinable'' findings should rarely be made, and the Service should 
make ``the strongest attempt possible'' to determine critical habitat. 
The group further stated that the Service is to use the best available 
science, and that ``optimal conditions'' are unknown is not a barrier 
to designating critical habitat. The group stated that it is not the 
Service's task to understand what features of occupied habitat are 
lacking, but to synthesize information about what is known about the 
species and its habitat needs.
    Our Response: The Service continues to work with researchers, other 
agencies, and stakeholders on filling large information gaps regarding 
the species and its habitat needs and preferences. We intend to publish 
a proposed critical habitat designation for the Florida bonneted bat in 
a separate rule within our statutory timeframe and have continued to 
fund research and study the habitat requirements of the bat.
    With this final listing determination, the species will now receive 
regulatory consideration under sections 7 and 10 of the Act and will 
benefit from other protections (see Available Conservation Measures, 
below). Potential impacts from proposed projects within the species' 
current range will be evaluated under these regulatory frameworks.
    (20) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that properties occupied by 
extant and active colonies are clearly

[[Page 61023]]

essential to the conservation of the species. She suggested that the 
roost and surrounding habitats in both Lee County and at Babcock-Webb 
WMA provide elements essential to the conservation of the colonies and 
should be designated as such. She recommended that conservation 
easements for the private property in Lee County be pursued and that 
conservation of Florida bonneted bats and their roosts be prioritized 
in the long-term management of Babcock-Webb WMA.
    One group requested that the proposed critical habitat designation 
account for seasonal shifts in roosting sites. In addition, the group 
requested that the Service consider, ``specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, 
upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation 
of the species.''
    Another group provided extensive comments relating to how a 
critical habitat designation must buffer the species from climate 
change threats. This group provided new literature related to climate 
change and contended that coastal Florida is particularly vulnerable to 
habitat losses caused by climate change (e.g., Cameron Devitt et al. 
2012). It argued that unoccupied inland habitat area that can provide 
roosting and foraging habitat should be identified and designated as 
critical habitat for the species. It also contended that as species and 
habitats shift in response to climate change, it will be important to 
protect habitat areas outside of the current range, including 
``stepping stone patches'' and corridors. In the group's estimation, 9 
of 11 roosting locations are highly vulnerable to inundation by sea-
level rise; therefore, proactive protection of suitable inland areas 
for future roosting and foraging habitat is necessary. The group also 
provided examples of the Service's designation of unoccupied habitat as 
critical habitat to buffer six species from climate change impacts. It 
stated that there was ``ample precedent, legal authority, and 
conservation imperative'' for the Service to similarly identify and 
designate unoccupied inland habitat for the Florida bonneted bat to 
buffer it from the effects of sea level-rise and increasing storm 
surge.
    Our Response: The Service will fully consider these comments and 
all available information during the process of identifying areas 
essential to the conservation of the species and in its proposal to 
designate critical habitat.

Comments From the State

    Section 4(i) of the Act states, ``the Secretary shall submit to the 
State agency a written justification for his failure to adopt 
regulations consistent with the agency's comments or petition.'' 
Comments we received from the State of Florida are addressed below.
    (21) Comment: The FWC provided additional information regarding a 
new roost documented at Babcock-Webb WMA, suggested alternatives for 
characterizing roosting sites and colonies, offered clarifications 
relating to threats, and suggested other minor clarifications and 
corrections.
    With regard to colonies, the FWC suggested a more conservative 
approach may be to identify an area as occupied, without attempting to 
estimate the number of colonies. The FWC noted that much of the 
information for estimation of colony size, number of colonies, and 
locations was based on acoustical data and inferences, and that since 
so little is known about roosting and foraging ecology, it is difficult 
to correlate bat calls to colonies. In this view, even at sites with 
roosts identified (e.g., Babcock-Webb WMA), determining the number of 
colonies present is difficult because of the composition of colonies 
(e.g., harem, maternity, bachelor, and potential seasonal changes) is 
not well understood, and the movement between roost sites by a colony 
has not been studied.
    The FWC also confirmed that it is currently developing a management 
plan that is similar in scope to a Federal recovery plan and stated 
that the objectives of the State plan will be to reverse threats 
causing the decline of the species. The FWC expressed desire to 
continue coordination with the Service in the development of both the 
State management plan and the Federal recovery plan.
    Our Response: We have incorporated the new information and have 
clarified portions of the text accordingly. We agree that it is better 
to identify areas as occupied rather than attempting to estimate the 
number of colonies and their locations. Therefore, we have 
substantially revised our discussion of colonies, replacing it with a 
more general discussion (see Background, above) based upon comments 
from the FWC, peer reviewers, and other commenters. See also Comment 6 
and our response, above, and Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, 
Factors C, D, and E, below.
    We intend to draw upon the State's management plan and all other 
relevant sources during recovery planning and implementation efforts. 
We will be soliciting input from the State and other stakeholders, who 
are integral in the conservation of the species, during recovery 
planning.
    (22) Comment: The FDACS stated that the protective provisions under 
Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) chapter 68A-27 and chapter 68A-
9.010 are important for the Florida bonneted bat since professional 
wildlife trappers and pesticide control operators may not be able to 
identify the species of bat they are attempting to exclude and may not 
be aware of the take prohibitions for listed species. The FDACS also 
indicated that the State's Structural Pest Control Act (Florida 
Statutes, chapter 482) does consider bats to be pests under certain 
situations and includes bats in the definition of ``rodent,'' even 
though bats are in the order Chiroptera. Despite the definition, 
however, the FDACS does not regulate commercial trapping or removal of 
bats, as they are protected under F.A.C. chapter 68A-9.010. The FDACS 
does regulate control of ``commensal rodents'' (i.e., rats and mice) in 
or near structures and the use of pesticides, including pesticides to 
control nuisance wildlife (i.e., poisons and repellants).
    The FDACS also stated that limited certification does not authorize 
the use of any ``pesticide or chemical substances, other than adhesive 
materials, to control rodents or other nuisance wildlife in, on, or 
under structures.'' For bats, only exclusion devices or registered 
chemical repellents can be used as specified under F.A.C. chapter 68A-
9.010. Currently, only naphthalene (e.g., Bat-A-Way) is registered as a 
bat repellent in Florida. Since this product is a pesticide, a 
professional applicator would need to possess a full pest control 
operator's license.
    The FDACS stated that all bat species in Florida are protected 
under F.A.C. chapter 68A-9.010, but unlisted bats can be taken 
(federally listed or State-listed species require an incidental take 
permit) if located within a structure through the use of an exclusion 
device or a registered repellant if used from August 15 to April 15. 
The use of a repellent by professional pest control or wildlife 
management personnel to remove bats from within a structure requires a 
pest control operator's license. The use of poisons on bats is not 
permitted.
    Our Response: We appreciate the clarifications provided and have 
adjusted the text accordingly (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species, Factor D, below). We maintain that existing regulatory 
measures, due to a variety of constraints, do not provide adequate 
protection (see Factor D). The species also remains at risk due to the 
effects of a wide array of threats (see

[[Page 61024]]

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factors A and E, below).
Comments Relating to Pesticides
    (23) Comment: The FDACS explained the role that it assumes during 
the registration and regulation of pesticide products in Florida under 
the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The 
FDACS also confirmed that organophosphate (OP) pesticides are highly 
toxic to mammals and that pyrethroids are generally of low toxicity to 
mammals. It also noted the marked decrease in OP pesticides in 
residential and urban areas in recent years and replacement with 
synthetic pyrethroids, which are much less toxic to birds and mammals.
    Naled, an OP pesticide, has reportedly been used for decades for 
both mosquito control and agriculture, but no incidents concerning 
direct impacts to bats have been reported to the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA 2008). In this view, it is possible that 
Florida bonneted bats are exposed to OP insecticides used in 
agriculture, but their habits of flying at heights of 9 m (30 ft) or 
more would likely minimize exposure to OP pesticide residues, which 
tend to kill insects quickly at crop level. The FDACS also indicated 
that it is not aware of data that document significant reductions in 
larger insect species (coleopterans, dipterans, and hemipterans) that 
are primarily consumed by bats in areas that receive mosquito control. 
The FDACS also noted that without scientific evidence, claims that 
mosquito control has reduced the Florida bonneted bat's food supply 
should be considered anecdotal.
    Two commenters contended that listing of the Florida bonneted bat 
may limit mosquito control activities, leading to an increase in the 
public's risk of exposure to West Nile virus, dengue fever, Saint Louis 
encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, and other diseases 
transmitted by mosquitoes. Concerns that quality of life for residents 
and visitors would be reduced, tourism would be hindered, and the 
economy would suffer if mosquito control operations were limited were 
also expressed. The commenters also noted that a location in North Fort 
Myers that regularly receives aerial mosquito control application has 
continued to support a Florida bonneted bat population, which has 
increased in recent years. It was also stated that the species' densest 
populations occur where mosquito control has existed for 30 years. Both 
commenters stated that the proposed rule suggested that mosquito 
control activities have either impacted the bat directly or reduced 
insect populations that serve as the food source for the Florida 
bonneted bat without providing scientific evidence in support of such 
claims. One commenter suggested that the entire Pesticides and 
Contaminants section be removed from the text, and if not removed, 
revised to indicate that mosquito control pesticides are not a threat.
    Our Response: We appreciate the explanations provided by FDACS and 
have made adjustments to the text, where applicable. We agree with the 
commenters' assertion that no direct scientific evidence exists that 
links mosquito control activities (or pesticides) with impacts to the 
Florida bonneted bat, either directly or through a reduction in prey 
base. Although dietary studies are underway, information on the 
species' prey base and prey availability are generally lacking. Studies 
to assess the availability of prey in portions of the species' range 
using various methods (e.g., emergence traps, radar and remote sensing) 
could help better assess habitat needs and potential threats.
    We do not agree with the assertion that mosquito control activities 
are implicated as having an adverse impact on the Florida bonneted bat. 
Impacts from mosquito control activities are not the basis for the 
listing of the Florida bonneted bat. The suggestions by the commenters 
that mosquito control operations would cease or be severely limited, 
and thus impact tourism and the economy, if the Florida bonneted bat is 
listed are not accurate. Such actions have not been recommended by the 
Service.
    We do not have evidence to substantiate the commenters' 
characterizations of Florida bonneted bat population increases in the 
North Fort Myers area or that the densest populations of Florida 
bonneted bats occur in areas that have been treated with mosquito 
control pesticides for 30 years. In fact, the size of the colony in 
North Fort Myers has remained relatively constant since 2008, except 
for the mortality observed after a prolonged cold event in 2010 (S. 
Trokey, pers. comm. 2008a-b; 2010a-c; 2011, 2012a, 2013). We have no 
information on population density for any areas.
    Content in the Pesticides and Contaminants section (see Summary of 
Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, below) is meant to be an 
assessment of the current state of knowledge regarding contaminant 
impacts to the Florida bonneted bat. Such an assessment involves 
characterizing an organism's known or potential field exposure to 
contaminants, as well as characterizing the biological effects related 
to such exposure scenarios. While assessing exposure, we maintain that 
there is a possibility that the Florida bonneted bat may be exposed to 
pesticides, including mosquito control chemicals. We also acknowledge 
that such exposures, while possible, have not been quantified. A risk 
estimate presented in the Interim Reregistration Eligibility Decision 
for Naled (EPA 2002, pp. 36, 38) indicates that a conservative 
endangered species level of concern is exceeded for insectivorous 
mammals when considering mosquito control usages. While this 
conservative estimate does not indicate imminent adverse impacts, it 
does suggest that potential mosquito control impacts should be 
evaluated. We plan to conduct limited analysis as a first step toward 
understanding possible pathways of exposure and hope to expand studies, 
if possible.
    The same type of assessment was conducted for invertebrates that 
the Florida bonneted bat may prey upon. We maintain that it is possible 
that non-target invertebrates, some of which may be prey for the 
Florida bonneted bat, are exposed to mosquito control chemicals. We 
also acknowledge that such an exposure, while possible, has not been 
quantified. Without quantifiable exposure scenarios, environmentally 
relevant biological effects on the Florida bonneted bat or its prey 
base cannot be attributed to mosquito control activities. The fact that 
quantifiable exposure and effects data are not available does not 
preclude an examination of potential impacts and an acknowledgement of 
what is known and unknown. We have clarified this section accordingly 
(see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, Pesticides and 
Contaminants, below).
    (24) Comment: The FDACS indicated that in an agricultural setting 
OP pesticides are expected to quickly kill insects at crop level, well 
below the expected foraging height of the Florida bonneted bat.
    Another commenter stated that insecticides used against flying 
insects quickly impair their nervous systems and render them unable to 
fly, thus avoiding a scenario where pesticide-laden flying insects 
would be consumed by the Florida bonneted bat. The commenter stated 
that most of the spray cloud of mosquito adulticide following truck 
application remains below 10 m (33 ft), which is lower than the Florida 
bonneted bat is expected to forage. It was also stated that mosquitoes 
are small-bodied insects that make up less than 1 percent of a bat's 
diet and that higher application rates than what are

[[Page 61025]]

currently used would be needed to kill larger bodied insects. 
Similarly, another commenter stated that for the Florida bonneted bat 
to use mosquitos as a food source would be highly inefficient 
energetically.
    Our Response: We agree that mosquitoes and other small-bodied 
insects are not likely to be consumed by the Florida bonneted bat, 
which is thought to prey upon larger insects (see Background, Life 
History, above). Small-bodied insects that have been exposed to 
mosquito control chemicals or agricultural pesticides through ground 
applications may also die quickly near ground level, as one commenter 
purports. The likelihood of larger-bodied insects that are exposed to 
sublethal concentrations of pesticides being consumed by the Florida 
bonneted bat remains unknown, but warrants further investigation. 
Although foraging likely occurs either at high altitudes or in fairly 
open habitat (H. Ober, in litt. 2012), the Florida bonneted bat may 
also prey upon ground insect species because it can take flight from 
the ground like other Eumops spp. (Ridgley 2012, pp. 1-2). Dietary 
preferences and foraging behavior remain poorly understood. The Service 
is working with researchers and partners to fill information gaps to 
better understand and conserve the species and its habitat.
    (25) Comment: The FDACS suggested that characterizing pesticide 
exposure should be given lower priority than obtaining more information 
regarding the basic life history of the Florida bonneted bat. It also 
suggested that future considerations for researching the potential 
impacts of mosquito control practices on the Florida bonneted bat 
should be discussed at a meeting of the Florida Coordinating Council 
for Mosquito Control's Subcommittee for Imperiled Species.
    Our Response: We believe that obtaining additional information on 
the species' life history should be a high priority. We agree that the 
aforementioned subcommittee is a good venue to discuss pesticide risk 
and exposure with other agencies and mosquito control personnel. We 
look forward to working with researchers and partners on better 
understanding and reducing threats to the species.

Federal Agency Comments

    (26) Comment: The NPS (ENP) provided additional data from 39 
acoustical surveys in and around ENP from June 2012 to November 2012; 
the species was detected during 4 surveys. ENP also provided results 
from searches for ``feeding buzzes'' and queried biologists to gain 
insight into foraging habitat. A correction was suggested for Table 1.
    Our Response: We have incorporated the new data and information and 
have clarified portions of the table and text accordingly. See also 
Comment 5 and our response, above.

Public Comments

    (27) Comment: One commenter indicated that the Florida bonneted bat 
may be found in the following counties: Charlotte, Lee, Collier, 
Monroe, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, Polk, and Glades.
    Our Response: We agree that the Florida bonneted bat occurs in most 
of the aforementioned counties. Available data indicate presence of the 
Florida bonneted bat in portions of Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, 
Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, and Polk Counties (see Table 1 and Occupied and 
Potential Occupied Areas, above). Range maps also include fractions of 
Glades, Hendry, and Broward Counties (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 11; 
2012, p. 11); however, current presence in these counties is uncertain.
    (28) Comment: One commenter requested clarification to the place 
referred to as ``Snapper Creek Park'' in Table 1, indicating that it is 
not known by that name, adding that Snapper Creek is a water management 
canal that is lined by a number of small parks and also linear 
bikeways.
    The commenter also provided additional information for the area 
surrounding the Zoo Miami, known as Richmond Pinelands. This commenter 
stated that the 10-km\2\ (4- mi\2\) area contains 344 hectares (ha) 
(850 ac) of pine rockland forest and that Miami-Dade Parks manages 223 
ha (550 ac). It was also noted that the Federal Government and 
University of Miami hold large parcels in this area. In this view, 
undeveloped open spaces owned by Miami-Dade County, the Federal 
Government, and the University of Miami likely provide habitat for the 
Florida bonneted bat.
    Our Response: We have verified that ``Snapper Creek Park'' is the 
correct name for the place where the Florida bonneted bat was recorded. 
It is a small park located near a canal; signage indicates that the 
property is owned by Miami-Dade County (C. Marks, pers. comm. 2013). We 
agree that the Richmond Pinelands area may also provide habitat for the 
species and have clarified portions of the text of this final rule.
    (29) Comment: Seven commenters stated that bats are crucial parts 
of ecosystems, providing benefits such as consuming insects, reducing 
the need to use pesticides, dispersing seeds, and pollinating plants. 
Another commenter provided a reference (Kunz et al. 2011, pp. 1-38), 
which discusses the ecosystem services provided by bats.
    Our Response: We agree and acknowledge that bats are vital 
components of ecosystems and provide enormous benefits. However, the 
role of bats in the ecosystem and their contributions are beyond the 
purpose of our assessment and not part of our determination.
    (30) Comment: One commenter in opposition to the proposed listing 
argued that survey information was inadequate and actual forage sites 
have not been scientifically determined. In this view, the use of this 
type of information to indicate level of threat to the species' 
foraging habitat is not valid.
    Our Response: Although we agree that foraging habitat is not fully 
known, we disagree that our assessment is not valid. As directed by the 
Act, we have used the best available scientific information to identify 
and assess threats to the Florida bonneted bat and make our listing 
determination. Uncertainties are also explained for individual threats 
(see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, below). More information 
on the species, its habitat, and threats will undoubtedly improve 
understanding and enhance conservation efforts in the future.
    (31) Comment: One commenter questioned our use of unpublished data 
from a 1982 survey of pest control operators showing a dramatic 
decrease in requests for nuisance bat removal beginning in the 1960s as 
being indicative of reduced bat abundance. The commenter stated that 
this only indicated that fewer people had bats in their buildings, 
which may be attributed to a change in building techniques to conserve 
energy and provide better bat exclusion. In this view, this survey 
cannot be used to justify listing the Florida bonneted bat.
    Our Response: We do not have information to support or refute the 
commenter's claim as to the cause for the decrease in requests for bat 
removal. Taken alone, results of the survey (provided in Belwood (1992, 
p. 217)) would not be enough to justify a listing action. However, we 
assessed this information and all other available data and information 
(see Background, above, and Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, 
below) in making our determination (see Determination of Status, 
below).
    (32) Comment: One commenter in opposition to the proposed listing 
suggested that artificial night lighting is affecting the prey base of 
bats. The

[[Page 61026]]

commenter cited Rich and Longcore (2006) who stated that artificial 
lighting is extremely detrimental to many insect populations and can 
change the diversity of insects in some locations. It was also noted 
that night lighting is widespread, is unregulated, and kills insects 
every night. The commenter suggested that night lighting may be 
contributing to the loss of habitat, noting that some bats use 
streetlights as hunting opportunities, while others avoid the lights. 
The commenter recommended that bat houses be placed away from night 
lighting and that the use of environmentally friendly lighting 
practices be promoted.
    Our Response: We agree that artificial lighting can have negative 
impacts on wildlife and may be affecting insect abundance and diversity 
in some locations. How artificial lighting affects the Florida bonneted 
bat's activities and prey base needs further investigation. We have 
added a section to our threats analysis (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species, Factor E, Ecological Light Pollution, below). 
Where lighting is necessary, we encourage the use of environmentally 
friendly lighting practices to minimize impacts to wildlife.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    We made changes to the final listing rule, after consideration of 
the comments we received during the public comment period (see above) 
and new information we received since publication of the proposed rule. 
Many small, nonsubstantive changes and corrections, not affecting the 
determination (e.g., updating the Background section in response to 
comments, and to make minor clarifications) were made throughout the 
document. The more substantial changes are:
    (1) We revised our discussion of colonies, removed the section 
entitled Estimating Colony Sizes and Locations, and added a more 
general section entitled Occupied and Potential Occupied Areas (see 
Background, above).
    (2) We assessed the potential effects of artificial night lighting 
in a new section entitled Ecological Light Pollution (see Summary of 
Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, below).
    (3) We revised our assessment of climate change and more fully 
included potential impacts to prey availability and foraging habitat 
from climate change (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, 
Factors A and E, below).
    (4) We assessed the potential effects of competition for limited 
roost sites in a new section entitled Competition for Tree Cavities 
(see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E, below).
    (5) We revised our assessment of predation to more fully consider 
the potential impacts from native wildlife and nonnative snakes (see 
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor C, below).
    (6) We incorporated data from new and ongoing studies (see 
Background, above).
    The new additions and modifications summarized above did not change 
our determination.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be 
warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    Habitat loss and alteration in forested and urban areas are major 
threats to the Florida bonneted bat (Belwood 1992, p. 220; Timm and 
Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). In natural areas, this species may be 
impacted when forests are converted to other uses or when old trees 
with cavities are removed (Belwood 1992, p. 220; Timm and Arroyo-
Cabrales 2008, p. 1). In urban settings, this species may be impacted 
when buildings with suitable roosts are demolished (Robson 1989, p. 15; 
Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1) or when structures are modified to 
exclude bats. Although the species' habitat preferences and extent of 
range are not well understood, significant land use changes have 
occurred in south Florida and additional habitat losses are expected in 
the future, placing the species at risk. Uncertainty regarding the 
species' specific habitat needs and requirements arguably contributes 
to the degree of this threat. Without more information on roosting 
sites and important foraging areas, inadvertent impacts to and losses 
of habitat may be more likely to occur through various sources and 
stressors (see below), and habitat losses will likely be more difficult 
to avoid. Since the Florida bonneted bat is suspected to have high 
roost site fidelity, the loss of a roost site may cause greater 
hardship to the species than the loss of a roost site for other, more 
labile species (H. Ober, in litt. 2012).

Land Use Changes and Human Population Growth

    Significant land use changes have occurred through time in south 
Florida, including major portions of the species' historical and 
current range. In his examination of Florida's land use history, 
Solecki (2001, p. 350) stated that tremendous land use changes took 
place from the early 1950s to the early and mid-1970s. During this 
time, ``an almost continuous strip of urban development became present 
along the Atlantic coast'' and urban land uses became well established 
in the extreme southeastern portion of the region, particularly around 
the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and along the entire coastline 
northward to West Palm Beach (Solecki 2001, p. 350). Similarly, Solecki 
(2001, p. 345) found tremendous urban expansion within the Gulf coast 
region, particularly near Ft. Myers since the 1970s, with the rate of 
urban land conversion superseding the rate of agricultural conversion 
in recent decades.
    In another examination, the extent of land use conversions for 
southwest Florida (Collier, Lee, Hendry, Charlotte, and Glades 
Counties) between 1986 and 1996 was estimated using a change detection 
analysis performed by Beth Stys (FWC, unpublished data) (Service 2008, 
p. 37). The area of disturbed lands increased 31 percent in these five 
counties between 1986 and 1996, with the greatest increases in 
disturbed lands occurring in Hendry and Glades Counties. Most (66 
percent) of the land use change over the 10-year period was due to 
conversion to agricultural uses. Forest cover types accounted for 42 
percent of land use conversions, dry prairies accounted for 37 percent, 
freshwater marsh accounted for 9 percent, and shrub and brush lands 
accounted for 8 percent.
    In another analysis, Stys calculated the extent of seminatural and 
natural lands that were converted to agricultural and urban or 
developed areas in Florida between 1985-1989 and 2003 (B. Stys, pers. 
comm. 2005; Service 2008, p. 38). Based upon this analysis, 
approximately

[[Page 61027]]

1,476 km\2\ (570 mi\2\) of natural and seminatural lands in Glades, 
Hendry, Lee, Collier, Broward, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties were 
converted during this time period (FWC, unpublished data). Of these, 
approximately 880 km\2\ (340 mi\2\) were conversions to agricultural 
uses and 596 km\2\ (230 mi\2\) to urban uses. In Charlotte County, 
26,940 ac (10,902 ha) (9.6 percent of the county) were converted to 
agriculture, and 21,712 ac (8,787 ha) (7.8 percent) were converted to 
urban uses in the time period examined. In Lee County, 16,705 ac (6,760 
ha) (6.3 percent) were converted to agriculture, and 44,734 ac (18,103 
ha) (16.8 percent) were developed. In Collier County, 34,842 ac (14,100 
ha) (3.1 percent) were converted to agriculture, and 38,331 ac (15,512 
ha) (3.4 percent) were developed. Several large-scale developments, 
mines, and transportation projects, totaling thousands of acres, are 
being planned, have been reportedly proposed, or are pending in 
portions of south and southwest Florida occupied by the species (A. 
Crooks, in litt. 2012).
    Habitat loss and human population growth in south Florida are 
continuing. The human population in south Florida has increased from 
fewer than 20,000 people in 1920, to more than 4.6 million by 1990 
(Solecki 2001, p. 345). The population of Miami-Dade County, one area 
where the Florida bonneted bat was historically common, increased from 
fewer than 500,000 people in 1950, to nearly 2.6 million in 2012 
(http://quickfacts.census.gov). In one projection, all counties with 
current Florida bonneted bat occurrences were forecasted to increase in 
human population density, with most counties expected to grow by more 
than 750 people per square mile by 2060 (Wear and Greis 2011, pp. 26-
27).
    In another model, three counties with current known occurrences of 
the Florida bonneted bat--Charlotte, Lee, and Collier--are expected to 
reach buildout (fully develop) before 2060 (Zwick and Carr 2006, pp. 
12-13, 16). For the period between 2040 and 2060, the population of Lee 
and Collier Counties is projected to exceed the available vacant land 
area, so the population was modeled to allow spillover into adjacent 
counties (Zwick and Carr 2006, p. 13). According to human population 
distribution models, south Florida is expected to become mostly 
urbanized, with the exception of some of the agricultural lands north 
and south of Lake Okeechobee (Zwick and Carr 2006, p. 2). Even the 
central Florida region, at what would be the northern limit of this 
species' distribution, will be almost entirely urbanized (Zwick and 
Carr 2006, p. 2). In an independent review of the FWC's biological 
status report for the species, Fleming stated, ``Continued urbanization 
of south Florida will undoubtedly have a negative impact on this bat'' 
(FWC 2011b, p. 3).

Loss of Forested Habitat

    Loss of native forested habitat and roost sites are major threats 
to the Florida bonneted bat. A highway construction project in Punta 
Gorda in 1979 destroyed a roost tree (Belwood 1981, p. 412; 1992, p. 
220). One museum specimen was originally discovered under a rock that 
was turned over by a bulldozer clearing land (Robson 1989, p. 9). 
Robson (1989, pp. 1-18) attributed the loss of native forested habitat, 
reduced insect abundance (see Factor E), and the ``active persecution 
of bats by humans'' (see Factor E) as the likely major impacts on the 
Florida bonneted bat in Miami-Dade County. Similarly, Belwood (1992, 
pp. 217, 220) indicated that bats in south Florida, including this 
species, appear to have declined drastically in numbers in recent years 
due to loss of roosting sites and effects of pesticides (see Factor E). 
More recently, Timm and Genoways (2004, p. 861) stated that habitat 
loss from development, in combination with other threats (i.e., 
pesticides and hurricanes, see Factor E), may have had a significant 
impact upon the already low numbers of Florida bonneted bats.
    Belwood (1992, p. 220) stated that forested areas are becoming rare 
as a result of human encroachment and that this will severely affect 
the forest occurrences of this species. Similarly, Robson (1989, p. 15) 
indicated that pine rockland, live oak, and tropical hardwood hammocks 
constituted most of the remaining, natural forest in the Miami area and 
that these communities are essential to this species' survival. Belwood 
(1992, p. 220) argued that tree cavities are rare in southern Florida 
and competition for available cavities (e.g., southern flying squirrel 
[Glaucomys volans], red-headed woodpecker [Melanerpes erythrocephalus], 
corn snake [Elaphe guttata guttata]) is intense. She suggested that 
nonurban natural areas such as ENP, Big Cypress/Fakahatchee areas, and 
State WMAs may be the only areas where this species may be found in the 
future, provided old trees with hollows and cavities are retained 
(Belwood 1992, p. 220) (see Land Management Practices, below).
    Approximately 90 percent of the forested habitats in Florida have 
been altered or eliminated, and losses are expected to continue (Wear 
and Greis 2002, p. 56). In the Southern Forest Resource Assessment, 
Florida was identified as one of the areas expected to experience 
substantial losses of forest in response to human population and 
changes in income (Wear and Greis 2002, p. 164). In the Southern Forest 
Futures Project, peninsular Florida is forecasted to lose the most 
forest land (34 percent) of any of the 21 sections analyzed in the 
southern United States (Wear and Greis 2011, p. 35).

Land Management Practices

    Although species occurrences on conservation lands are inherently 
more protected than those on private lands, habitat alteration during 
management practices may impact natural roosting sites because the 
locations of such sites are unknown. For example, removal of old or 
live trees with cavities during activities associated with forest 
management (e.g., thinning, pruning), prescribed fire, exotic species 
treatment, or trail maintenance may inadvertently remove roost sites, 
if such sites are not known. Loss of an active roost or removal during 
critical life-history stages (e.g., when females are pregnant or 
rearing young) can have severe ramifications, considering the species' 
small population size and low fecundity (see Factor E).
    Overall, occupied and potential habitat for the Florida bonneted 
bat on forested or wooded lands, both private and public, continues to 
be at risk due to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from a 
variety of sources. Additional searches for potential roosting sites in 
forested and other natural areas are especially needed.

Loss of Artificial Structures

    Since the Florida bonneted bat will use human dwellings and other 
artificial structures, it is also vulnerable to habitat loss and 
alteration in urban environments (Belwood 1992, p. 220; Timm and 
Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 1). Owre (1978, p. 43) stated that all recent 
specimens had been collected within the suburbs of greater Miami from 
structures built in the 1920s and 1930s. Owre (1978, p. 43) indicated 
that three specimens were taken on the ground, one in a rocky field 
that was being bulldozed, one next to sewer conduits piled near freshly 
dug excavations, and one on a lawn near a university building in which 
the bats roosted. Removal of buildings with spaces suitable for 
roosting is a threat to this species (Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 2008, p. 
1). Robson (1989, p. 15) stated that seemingly innocuous activities 
like destroying abandoned buildings and sealing barrel-

[[Page 61028]]

tile roof shingles may have a severe impact on remaining populations in 
urban areas. Cyndi and George Marks (pers. comm. 2008) stated that 
Florida bonneted bats can move into new buildings as well and ``the 
fact that they adapt well to manmade structures has most likely been a 
large factor in their decline'' (see Factor E). The use of buildings or 
other structures inhabited by or near humans places bats at risk of 
inadvertent or purposeful removal and displacement (see Factor E).

Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and ``climate 
change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
(IPCC). The term ``climate'' refers to the mean and variability of 
different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a 
typical period for such measurements, although shorter or longer 
periods also may be used (IPCC 2007, p. 78). The term ``climate 
change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or 
more measures of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that 
persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, whether 
the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 
2007, p. 78).
    Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate that 
changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has been 
faster since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global climate 
system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of 
the world and decreases in other regions (for these and other examples, 
see IPCC 2007, p. 30; and Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 82-85).
    Scientists use a variety of climate models, which include 
consideration of natural processes and variability, as well as various 
scenarios of potential levels and timing of greenhouse gas (GHG) 
emissions, to evaluate the causes of changes already observed and to 
project future changes in temperature and other climate conditions 
(e.g., Meehl et al. 2007, entire; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 11555, 
15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529). Although projections of the 
magnitude and rate of warming differ after about 2030, the overall 
trajectory of all the projections is one of increased global warming 
through the end of this century, even for the projections based on 
scenarios that assume that GHG emissions will stabilize or decline. 
Thus, there is strong scientific support for projections that warming 
will continue through the 21st century, and that the magnitude and rate 
of change will be influenced substantially by the extent of GHG 
emissions (IPCC 2007, pp. 44-45; Meehl et al. 2007, pp. 760-764 and 
797-811; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 
527, 529).
    Various changes in climate may have direct or indirect effects on 
species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they 
may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as interactions of climate with other variables 
(e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-19).
    We use ``downscaled'' projections when they are available and have 
been developed through appropriate scientific procedures, because such 
projections provide higher resolution information that is more relevant 
to spatial scales used for analyses of a given species (see Glick et 
al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a discussion of downscaling). With regard to 
our analysis for the Florida bonneted bat, downscaled projections 
suggest that sea-level rise is the largest climate-driven challenge to 
low-lying coastal areas and refuges in the subtropical ecoregion of 
southern Florida (U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) 2008, pp. 
5-31, 5-32). Although not strictly tied to coastal areas, the Florida 
bonneted bat uses, in part, forests and other habitats near sea level 
in areas of south Florida where considerable habitat is projected to be 
lost to sea level rise by 2100 (Saha et al. 2011, pp. 81-108). Three 
subpopulations of the Florida bonneted bat occur in at-risk coastal 
locations (Gore et al. 2010, pp. 1-2), and the effects of sea level 
rise are expected to be a continual problem for species using coastal 
habitats (Saha et al. 2011, p. 81).
    Subsequent to the 2007 IPCC Report, the scientific community has 
continued to model sea level rise. Recent peer reviewed publications 
suggest increased acceleration of sea level rise. Observed sea level 
rise rates are already trending along the higher end of the 2007 IPCC 
estimates, and it is now widely predicted that sea level rise will 
exceed the levels projected by the IPCC (Grinsted et al. 2010, p. 470; 
Rahmstorf et al. 2012, p.1). Taken together, these studies support the 
use of higher end estimates now prevalent in the scientific literature. 
Recent studies have estimated a mean global sea level rise of 1 to 2 m 
(3.3 to 6.6 ft) by 2100, based upon individual projections as follows: 
0.75 m to 1.90 m (2.5 to-6.2 ft; Vermeer and Rahmstorf 2009), 0.8 m to 
2.0 m (2.6 to 6.6 ft; Pfeffer et al. 2008), 0.9 m to 1.3 m (3 to 4.3 
ft; Grinsted et al. 2010), 0.6 m to 1.6 m (2.0 to 5.2 ft; Jevrejeva et 
al. 2010), and 0.5 m to 1.40 m (1.6 to 4.6 ft; The National Academy of 
Sciences 2012).
    When analyzed using NOAA's Sea Level Rise and Coastal Impacts 
viewer (http://www.csc.noaa.gov/slr/viewer/#), we can generalize as to 
the impact of a 1.8-m (5.9-ft) sea level rise (the maximum available 
using this tool) on the areas currently used by the Florida bonneted 
bat. This approach is a gross estimation, confounded by the fact that 
no natural active roost sites are known and individuals are capable of 
traveling large distances and likely have large home ranges. In 
addition, it is a conservative estimate since large portions of the 
species' occupied range fell into the category of ``area not mapped'' 
using this tool. A 1.8-m (5.9-ft) rise would inundate roughly half of 
the locations where the species has been recorded or observed (see 
Table 1, above), but not necessarily the entirety of each site. Within 
the species' range, low-lying areas in Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, and 
Monroe Counties appear most vulnerable to inundation. In Collier 
County, portions of FSPSP, PSSF, BCNP, Everglades City, and Naples will 
likely be partially inundated. In Lee County, areas near the occupied 
bat houses in North Fort Myers may be partially inundated. In Miami-
Dade County, three sites will likely be inundated and others in low-
lying areas are vulnerable. In Monroe County, coastal areas within ENP 
will be impacted. In this analysis, it appears that occupied areas of 
Charlotte, Polk, and Okeechobee Counties are the most secure, in terms 
of remaining unaffected from inundation. In summary, much of low-lying, 
coastal south Florida ``will be underwater or inundated with saltwater 
in the coming century'' (CCSP 2008, p. 5-31). This means that large 
portions of occupied, suitable, and potential roosting and foraging 
habitat for the Florida bonneted bat in low-lying areas will likely be 
either submerged or affected by increased flooding.
    Climate change is likely to increase the occurrence of saltwater 
intrusion as sea level rises (IPCC 2008, pp. 87, 103)). Since the 
1930s, increased salinity of coastal waters contributed to the decline 
of cabbage palm forests on the west coast of Florida (Williams et al. 
1999, pp. 2056-2059), expansion of mangroves into adjacent marshes in 
the Everglades (Ross et al. 2000, pp. 108, 110-111), and loss of pine 
rockland in the Keys (Ross et al. 1994, pp. 144, 151-155). Saha et al. 
2011 (pp. 81, 105) predicted changes in plant species composition and a 
decline in the extent of coastal hardwood hammocks and buttonwood 
forests in ENP before the

[[Page 61029]]

onset of inundation, based upon tolerance to salinity and drought. Such 
changes in vegetation will likely impact the Florida bonneted bat, 
since the species uses forested areas and coastal habitats.
    Hydrology has a strong influence on plant distribution in these and 
other coastal areas (IPCC 2008, p. 57). Such communities typically 
grade from salt to brackish to freshwater species. Human developments 
will also likely be significant factors influencing whether natural 
communities can move and persist (IPCC 2008, p. 57; CCSP 2008, p. 7-6). 
Climate change, human population growth, forest management, and land 
use changes are also expected to increase water stress (water demand 
exceeding availability) within areas of the south, and south Florida is 
considered a hot spot for future water stress (Wear and Greis 2011, pp. 
46-50). For the Florida bonneted bat, this means that some habitat in 
coastal areas will likely change as vegetation changes and additional 
human developments encroach. Any deleterious changes to important 
roosting sites or foraging areas could further diminish the likelihood 
of the species' survival and recovery.
    In the southeastern United States, drier conditions and increased 
variability in precipitation associated with climate change are 
expected to hamper successful regeneration of forests and cause shifts 
in vegetation types through time (Wear and Greis 2011, p. 58). In their 
study on the impact and implications of climate change on bats, Sherwin 
et al. (2012, p. 8) suggested that bats specialized in individual roost 
sites (i.e., cave and tree roosts) at distinct life-history stages are 
at great risk from changing vegetation and climatic conditions. Rebelo 
et al. (2010, pp. 561-576) found that tree-roosting bats in Europe may 
face a reduction in suitable roosts if the rate of climate change is 
too rapid to allow the development of equivalent areas of mature 
broadleaf forests in new `climatically suitable areas' as their range 
extends northward. Decreases in forest regeneration may further limit 
available roosting sites for the Florida bonneted bat or increase 
competition for them.
    Drier conditions and increased variability in precipitation are 
also expected to increase the severity of wildfire events. Climate 
changes are forecasted to extend fire seasons and the frequency of 
large fire events throughout the Coastal Plain (Wear and Greis 2011, p. 
65). Increases in the scale, frequency, or severity of wildfires could 
also have severe ramifications on the Florida bonneted bat, considering 
its forest-dwelling nature and general vulnerability due to its small 
population size, restricted range, few colonies, low fecundity, and 
relative isolation (see Factor E).
    Climate changes may also affect foraging habitat and prey 
availability. Increased plant water stress is likely to impact 
vegetation community composition and chemical composition of plants, 
which would likely affect insect availability and the timing of insect 
availability to foraging bats (H. Ober, in litt. 2012). In one study, 
Huberty and Denno (2004, pp. 1383-1398) examined water stress on plants 
(e.g., changes in nitrogen, allelochemistry) and consequences for 
herbivorous insects, examining parameters such as survivorship, 
density, fecundity, and relative growth rate. Water stress in plants 
was found to affect the population dynamics of herbivorous insects, 
with varying effects depending upon insect guild (Huberty and Denno 
2004, pp. 1383-1398). In another study, Von Holle et al. (2010, pp. 1-
10) found that climatic variability is leading to later seasonal 
flowering of plants in Florida. Although the dietary needs of the 
Florida bonneted bat are not understood, climate changes may affect 
foraging habitat and insect availability in ways not readily apparent.

Alternative Future Landscape Models and Coastal Squeeze

    The Florida bonneted bat is anticipated to face major risks from 
coastal squeeze, which occurs when habitat is pressed between rising 
sea levels and coastal development that prevents landward movement 
(Scavia et al. 2002; FitzGerald et al. 2008; Defeo et al. 2009; LeDee 
et al. 2010; Menon et al. 2010; Noss 2011). Habitats in coastal areas 
(i.e., Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade Counties) are likely 
the most vulnerable. Although it is difficult to quantify impacts due 
to uncertainties involved, coastal squeeze will likely result in losses 
in roosting and foraging habitat for the Florida bonneted bat in 
several areas.
    Various model scenarios developed at the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology (MIT) have projected possible trajectories of future 
transformation of the south Florida landscape by 2060 based upon four 
main drivers: climate change, shifts in planning approaches and 
regulations, human population change, and variations in financial 
resources for conservation (Vargas-Moreno and Flaxman 2010, pp. 1-6). 
The Service used various MIT scenarios in combination with available 
acoustical data to project what may occur to occupied Florida bonneted 
bat habitat in the future, assuming that all occupied areas are known, 
that acoustical data represented approximate locations of colonies in 
the future, and that projected impacts to colonies are solely tied to 
roosting habitat. Potential impacts to foraging habitat were expected 
but not analyzed, since foraging distances are not known. We 
acknowledge that this analysis was crude and conservative (e.g., 
foraging habitat not analyzed; effects analyzed only up to 2060, the 
maximum time period of the model scenarios). Actual outcomes may 
substantially differ from that projected depending upon deviations in 
the assumptions or estimated variables.
    In the best-case scenario, which assumes low sea level rise, high 
financial resources, proactive planning, and only trending population 
growth, analyses suggest that four broad occupied areas may be lost. 
Based upon the above assumptions, occupied areas in North Fort Myers, 
the Ten Thousand Islands area, coastal portions of ENP (multiple 
sites), and the Miami area (multiple sites) appear to be most 
susceptible to future losses, with losses attributed to increases in 
sea level and human population. In the worst-case scenario, which 
assumes high sea level rise, low financial resources, a `business as 
usual' approach to planning, and a doubling of human population, 10 
broad occupied areas may be lost--the areas noted in the best-case 
scenario above as well as some in BCNP (multiple sites), Naples, 
Everglades City, mainland portions of ENP (multiple sites), Homestead, 
and Coral Gables. Actual impacts may be greater or less than 
anticipated based upon high variability of factors involved (e.g., sea 
level rise, human population growth) and assumptions made.

Summary of Factor A

    We have identified a number of threats to the habitat of the 
Florida bonneted bat which have occurred in the past, are impacting the 
species now, and will continue to impact the species in the future. 
Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, and associated pressures 
from increased human population are major threats; these threats are 
expected to continue, placing the species at greater risk. The species' 
use of conservation areas tempers some impacts, yet the threats of 
major losses of habitat remains. In natural or undeveloped areas, the 
Florida bonneted bat may be impacted when forests are converted to 
other uses

[[Page 61030]]

or when old trees with cavities are removed. Routine land management 
activities (e.g., thinning, prescribed fire) may also impact unknown 
roost sites. In urban areas, suitable roost sites may also be lost when 
buildings are demolished or when structures are modified to exclude 
bats. Uncertainty regarding the species' specific habitat needs and 
requirements (i.e., location of roost sites) arguably contributes to 
these threats, by increasing the likelihood of inadvertent impacts to 
and losses of habitat. The effects resulting from climatic change, 
including sea level rise and coastal squeeze, are expected to become 
severe in the future and result in additional habitat losses, including 
the loss of roost sites and foraging habitat. Although efforts are 
being made to conserve natural areas and, in some cases, retain cavity 
trees, the long-term effects of large-scale and wide-ranging habitat 
modification, destruction, and curtailment will last into the future. 
Therefore, based on our analysis of the best available information, 
present and future loss and modification of the species' habitat is a 
threat to the Florida bonneted bat throughout all of its range.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Key features of the basic life history, ecology, reproductive 
biology, and habitat requirements of many bats, including the Florida 
bonneted bat, are unknown. Species-specific ecological requirements 
have not been determined (e.g., natural roost sites, seasonal changes 
in roosting habitat, dietary needs, seasonal changes in diet, prime 
foraging habitat). The majority of information comes from examination 
of dead specimens, chemical analyses of samples taken from dead 
specimens, analysis of guano, and collection and analysis of 
nonintrusive acoustical recordings. To our knowledge, those individuals 
who have studied or are actively studying the Florida bonneted bat are 
sensitive to its rarity and endemism (restricted range). Consequently, 
collection for scientific and educational purposes is extremely 
limited. We are not aware of any known commercial or recreational uses 
for the species. For these reasons, we find that overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes does not 
currently pose a threat to the species, nor is it likely to do so in 
the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    The effects of disease or predation are not well known. Given the 
Florida bonneted bat's overall vulnerability, both disease and 
predation could pose threats to its survival.

Disease

    White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging infectious disease 
affecting insectivorous, cave-dwelling bats. It was first documented in 
2006, in caves west of Albany, New York. Since its discovery, WNS has 
spread rapidly throughout the eastern and central United States and 
southeastern Canada, killing millions of bats. It is expected to 
continue spreading westward and southward. By June 2012, WNS had been 
confirmed in well over 200 caves and mines within 20 States and 4 
Canadian provinces (J. Coleman, pers. comm. 2012). As of June 2013, the 
number of affected sites is rapidly changing, and bats with WNS have 
now been confirmed in 22 States and 5 Canadian provinces (http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/about/where-is-it-now). It has not yet been 
documented in Florida.
    WNS is caused by the cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, a 
newly described fungus, and is named after the white fungal growth that 
often occurs on the muzzle of affected bats (Gargas et al. 2009, pp. 
147-154; Lorch et al. 2011, pp. 376-379). In North America, G. 
destructans appears to infect bats only during winter hibernation. 
Mortality rates have been observed to vary by species and site, but 
have been as high as 100 percent at some hibernacula (winter bat 
roosts).
    WNS has been recorded in seven North American bat species, all of 
which are known to hibernate in caves and mines. WNS and G. destructans 
have not been detected in bats that typically live outside of caves, 
such as eastern red-bats (Lasiurus borealis), and the fungus is 
believed to need the cave environment to survive. Because the Florida 
bonneted bat spends its entire life cycle outside of caves and mines 
and in subtropical environments where no torpor or hibernation is 
required, we do not anticipate that it will be adversely affected by 
WNS. However, since the fungus is new to science and North America, it 
is not known how it may evolve or change in the future.
    Prior to the discovery of WNS, infectious diseases had rarely been 
documented as a large-scale cause of mortality in bat populations and 
had not been considered a major issue (Messenger et al. 2003 as cited 
in Jones et al. 2009, p. 108). Jones et al. (2009, pp. 108-109) 
contended that because increased environmental stress can suppress the 
immune systems of bats and other animals, increased prevalence of 
diseases may be a consequence of altered environments (i.e., bats may 
be more susceptible to disease if they are stressed by other threats). 
These authors contended that bats are excellent potential bioindicators 
because they are reservoirs of a wide range of emerging infectious 
diseases whose epidemiology may reflect environmental stress. Jones et 
al. (2009, p. 109) suggested that an increased incidence of disease in 
bats may be an important bioindicator of habitat degradation in 
general. Sherwin et al. (2012, p. 14) suggest that warming temperatures 
associated with climate change may increase the spread of disease 
(along with other impacts; see Factor E), which could cause significant 
mortalities to bat populations in general.
    At this time, it is difficult to assess whether disease is 
currently or likely to become a threat to the Florida bonneted bat. 
With anticipated climatic changes and increased environmental stress, 
it is possible that disease will have a greater impact on the Florida 
bonneted bat in the future.

Predation

    In general, animals such as owls, hawks, raccoons, skunks, and 
snakes prey upon bats (Harvey et al. 1999, p. 13). However, few animals 
consume bats as a regular part of their diet (Harvey et al. 1999, p. 
13). There is only one record of natural predation on the Florida 
bonneted bat (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 860). A skull of one specimen 
was found in a regurgitated owl pellet at the FSPSP in June 2000 (Timm 
and Genoways 2004, pp. 860-861; C. Marks, pers. comm. 2006a; Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 6; M. Owen, pers. comm. 2012a, 2012b).
    Although evidence of predation is lacking, the species is 
presumably affected by some level of predation from native wildlife 
(e.g., hawks, owls, raccoons, rat snakes) and the large number of 
introduced and nonnative reptiles (e.g., young Burmese pythons, boa 
constrictors) (Krysko et al. 2011; M. Ludlow, in litt. 2012; R. Timm, 
in litt. 2012). Several species of nonnative, giant constrictor snakes 
have become established in Florida, causing major ecological impacts 
(http://www.fort.usgs.gov/FLConstrictors/ 77 FR 3330, January 23, 
2012). Giant constrictors are habitat generalists, can grow and 
reproduce rapidly, and are arboreal when young, placing birds and 
arboreal mammals, such as bats, at risk (http://www.fort.usgs.gov/FLConstrictors/). Given the small population of the Florida bonneted 
bat, it is possible that the loss to snake predation is under 
appreciated now or this may become more of a threat in the future (M. 
Ludlow, in litt. 2012; R.

[[Page 61031]]

Timm, in litt. 2012). Some efforts to control nonnative snakes and 
other species are being made on some conservation lands (e.g., ENP; 
Harvey et al. 2013; http://www.fort.usgs.gov/FLConstrictors), but we do 
not have data on how these efforts may be impacting the Florida 
bonneted bat.
    Due to limited information, we are not able to determine the extent 
to which predation may be impacting the Florida bonneted bat at this 
time. However, given the species' apparent small population size and 
overall vulnerability, it is reasonable to assume that predation is a 
potential threat, which may increase in the future.

Summary of Factor C

    Disease and predation have the potential to impact the Florida 
bonneted bat's continued survival, given its few occupied areas, 
apparent low abundance, restricted range, and overall vulnerability. At 
this time, we do not have evidence to suggest that disease or predation 
is currently having species-level impacts on the Florida bonneted bat. 
However, given the uncertainties (e.g., evolving disease) and factors 
involved (e.g., more introduced predators), coupled with the general 
vulnerability of the species, we consider both disease and predation to 
be potential threats to the Florida bonneted bat.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Despite the fact that regulatory mechanisms provide several 
protections for the Florida bonneted bat, Federal, State, and local 
laws have not been sufficient to prevent past and ongoing impacts to 
the species and its habitat within its current and historical range.
    The taxon was originally listed as endangered in the State of 
Florida as the Florida mastiff bat (Eumops glaucinus floridanus) 
(F.A.C., chapter 68). As such, it is afforded protective provisions 
specified in F.A.C. chapter 68A-27 (68A-27.0011 and 68A-27.003). This 
designation prohibits any person from pursuing, molesting, harming, 
harassing, capturing, possessing, or selling this species, or parts 
thereof, except as authorized by specific permit, with permits being 
issued only when the permitted activity will clearly enhance the 
survival potential of the species. The protection afforded the Florida 
bonneted bat by the State of Florida primarily prohibits direct take of 
individuals (J. Gore, pers. comm. 2009). However, there is no 
substantive protection of habitat or protection of potentially suitable 
habitat at this time.
    As a consequence of the revision of the FWC's listing 
classification system, the former classification levels of Florida's 
endangered and threatened species were re-classified as a single level, 
named ``State-designated Threatened,'' and include any species that met 
the FWC criteria based on the IUCN criteria for a vulnerable species. 
All species formerly listed as endangered and reclassified as State-
designated Threatened maintain the protections of the former endangered 
classification. Hence, the Florida bonneted bat's status technically 
changed on November 8, 2010, but the species' original protective 
measures remained in place (F.A.C. chapter 68A-27.003, amended). As 
part of the FWC's revision of its classification system, biological 
status review reports were prepared for numerous imperiled species in 
Florida, including the Florida bonneted bat. Based upon a literature 
review and the biological review group's findings, FWC staff 
recommended that the Florida bonneted bat remain listed as a threatened 
species (FWC 2011a, p. 5). The biological status review recognized the 
taxon as the Florida bonneted bat, and the State's current threatened 
and endangered list uses both names, Florida bonneted (mastiff) bat, 
Eumops (=glaucinus) floridanus. The FWC's draft Species Action Plan for 
the species uses the name E. floridanus (FWC 2013, pp. 1-43).
    As part of the FWC's revision to Florida's imperiled species rule, 
management plans will be developed for all species (F.A.C. chapter 68A-
27), including the Florida bonneted bat. One component of these 
management plans is to include needed regulations and protections that 
are not provided in the current rule (M. Tucker, in litt. 2012). A 
first draft for the Florida bonneted bat management plan is in 
development (J. Myers, pers. comm. 2012c; M. Tucker, in litt. 2012). 
When completed, the management plan should allow for tailored 
protections for the species, which may improve the ability of FWC to 
address habitat issues in addition to take of individuals (M. Tucker, 
in litt. 2012). Objectives of the State plan will be to reverse threats 
causing the decline of the species (FWC, in litt. 2012).
    Humans often considered bats to be ``nuisance'' species when they 
occur in or around human dwellings or infrastructure (see Factor E, 
below). The rules for taking of nuisance wildlife are provided under 
F.A.C. chapter 68A-9.010. Under these rules, property owners can take 
nuisance wildlife or may authorize another person to take nuisance 
wildlife on their behalf. Although these rules do not authorize the 
taking of species listed under F.A.C. chapter 68A-27 (without an 
incidental take permit from the State), these rules do allow other bat 
species to be taken under certain circumstances. These include when: 
(1) The take is incidental to the use of an exclusion device, a device 
which allows escape from and blocks reentry into a roost site located 
within a structure, or incidental to the use of a registered chemical 
repellant, at any time from August 15 to April 15; or (2) the take is 
incidental to permanent repairs that prohibit the egress of bats from a 
roost site located within a structure, provided an exclusion device is 
used as above for a minimum of four consecutive days or nights for 
which the low temperature is forecasted to remain above 10 [deg]C 
(50[emsp14][deg]F) prior to repairs and during the time period 
specified. F.A.C. chapter 68A-9.010 provides the methods that may not 
be used to take nuisance wildlife, including any method prohibited 
pursuant to section 828.12 of the Florida Statutes (Florida Cruelty to 
Animals Statutes).
    Use of bat exclusion devices or any other intentional device or 
materials at a roost site that may prevent or inhibit the free ingress 
or egress of bats is prohibited from April 16 through August 14. While 
these restrictions help to limit potential impacts during the maternity 
season for many bat species in Florida, regulations do not require 
definitive identification of the bat species to be excluded prior to 
the use of the device. In addition, it is not clear if this time period 
is broad enough to prevent potential impacts to the Florida bonneted 
bat, which is possibly polyestrous and more tropical in nature, with a 
potentially prolonged sensitive time window where females and young are 
especially vulnerable. Pregnant Florida bonneted bats have been found 
in June through September (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 9), and a second 
birthing season can occur possibly in January-February (Timm and 
Genoways 2004, p. 859; FBC 2005, p. 1). During the early portion of the 
maternal period, females may give birth to young and leave them in the 
roost while making multiple foraging excursions to support lactation 
(Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 8-9). Therefore, despite regulations 
restricting the use of exclusion devices, it is still possible that use 
of such devices can affect the species during sensitive time periods, 
including possible impacts to pregnant females, newborns, or juvenile 
pups.
    The FWC, FBC, Bat Conservation International, and other groups 
maintain a list of qualified exclusion devices, but it is not clear how 
often work is performed by recommended personnel

[[Page 61032]]

or if it is in accordance with State regulations. It is also not clear 
if those who install exclusion devices can readily distinguish between 
Florida bonneted bats and other bat species in Florida (M. Tucker, 
pers. comm. 2012). Despite regulations, in some cases, nuisance bats 
are likely being removed by nuisance wildlife trappers through methods 
that are not approved (e.g., removed from roosts with vacuum cleaner-
like apparatuses) or excluded during time periods that are not 
permitted (e.g., inside the maternity season) (A. Kropp, FWC, pers. 
comm. 2009). Pest control companies unaware of or not complying with 
the regulations that apply to bats have been known to remove them 
through methods other than legal exclusions (FWC 2013, p. 9). Private 
landowners and individual property owners may also be unaware of 
regulations.
    In addition, there are discrepancies between legislation passed by 
the FDACS, which classifies bats as rodents, and the current FWC 
nuisance wildlife regulations above (Florida Bat Working Group [FBWG] 
2009, p. 3). According to the State's Structural Pest Control Act 
(Florida Statutes, chapter 482) bats may be considered pests, and pest 
control including methods to prevent, destroy, control, or eradicate 
pests in, on, or under a structure, lawn, or ornamental are allowable 
under certain rules and provisions (FDACS, in litt. 2012). The FDACS 
regulates the control of ``commensal rodents'' (rats and mice) in or 
near structures and the use of pesticides, including the pesticides 
used for the control of nuisance wildlife (i.e., poisons and 
repellents) (FDACS, in litt. 2012). However, FDACS does not regulate 
commercial trapping or removal of wildlife, including bats, as these 
are protected under F.A.C. chapter 68A-9.010 (FDACS, in litt. 2012). 
The use of poisons on bats is not permitted. The use of a repellant 
(e.g., naphthalene) by professional pest control or wildlife management 
personnel to remove bats from a structure requires a pest control 
operator's license (FDACS, in litt. 2012).
    Bat advocacy groups and others are concerned over the lack of 
awareness of the regulations among people paid to perform exclusions 
(FBWG 2009, p. 3; FWC 2013, p. 21). Education is needed about the dates 
during which exclusion is prohibited for nuisance wildlife trappers, 
pest control companies, law enforcement, county health departments, and 
local animal control (FBWG 2010, p. 3). The FDACS is currently 
developing a limited license for those individuals or companies that 
conduct wildlife removal services in or near structures (M. Tucker, in 
litt. 2012). To obtain this license, operators will be required to 
complete an educational program and pass a test based on a training 
manual in development by staff with the University of Florida-Institute 
of Food and Agricultural Sciences (M. Tucker, in litt. 2012). The 
manual will include information on proper exclusion techniques and 
existing regulations protecting bats during the maternity season (M. 
Tucker, in litt. 2012). The FDACS, with assistance from other agencies, 
offered to develop an informational bulletin on the Florida bonneted 
bat that can be distributed to pest control operators directly or 
during training for certification or renewal (FDACS, in litt. 2012).
    Additional educational efforts are underway. To better address 
violations of the maternity season and exclusion rule, FWC is training 
law enforcement officers (M. Tucker, in litt. 2012). Training on the 
importance of bats and the rules relating to exclusions has been 
provided to some officers in the northern part of the State, and an 
online training module is being developed as part of the FWC law 
enforcement educational curriculum that all officers must complete (M. 
Tucker, in litt. 2012). The FWC, FDACS, Service, and other partners are 
also planning to increase awareness among land managers, environmental 
professionals, pest control operators, wildlife trappers, county health 
departments, local animal control, and others who may be in a position 
to have an impact on bat habitat or bat roosts (FDACS, in litt. 2012). 
It is not clear to what extent training programs will be supported in 
the future or how effective efforts to raise awareness will be in 
reducing violations.
    With regard to Federal lands, the NPS manages the natural resources 
on its lands (e.g., BCNP, ENP) in accordance with NPS-specific 
statutes, including the NPS Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.), as well 
as other general environmental laws and applicable regulations. The 
Florida Panther NWR operates under the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 
(16 U.S.C. 742a et seq.), the Endangered Species Act, and the Refuge 
Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee). With regard to State lands, 
all property and resources owned by FDEP are generally protected from 
harm in chapter 62D-2.013(2), and animals are specifically protected 
from unauthorized collection in chapter 62D-2.013(5), of the Florida 
Statutes. At Babcock-Webb WMA, the FWC is the lead managing agency, 
with FFS as a cooperating agency, and is responsible for operation 
through a lease agreement; management is derived under article IV, 
section 9 of the Florida Constitution, and guidance and directives 
under the Florida Statutes (FWC 2003, p. 4). At PSSF, the FFS manages 
the forest using the multiple-use concept, providing a balance for 
recreational, environmental, and resource use needs, including forest 
and wildlife management. Miami-Dade County Park lands are fragmented, 
heavily used, and also try to balance recreational, natural, and 
cultural uses.
    The Florida bonneted bat's presence on Federal, State, and county 
lands provides some protection, but does not insulate it from many 
threats (see Factor A and Factor E). These lands provide clear 
conservation benefits to the species, but protections may be limited in 
extent (e.g., within the boundaries of the parcel). In some cases, 
conservation benefits for the Florida bonneted bat may not be fully 
realized on conservation lands due to various missions of individual 
parcels and the demands of balancing the management of other wildlife 
and habitats or multiple purposes and uses (e.g., recreation). Even 
where wildlife conservation is the primary purpose, routine land 
management practices (e.g., prescribed fire) can cause the loss of 
roost sites, especially since locations of natural roosts are unknown 
(see Factor A). Human use can cause disturbance and the use of 
pesticides may increase the likelihood of direct exposure or may impact 
the prey base (see Factor E).
    Collecting permits can be issued ``for scientific or educational 
purposes.'' Permits are required from the FWC for scientific research 
on the Florida bonneted bat. For work on Federal lands (e.g., ENP, 
BCNP), permits are required from the NPS or the Service, if work is on 
NWRs. For work on State lands, permits are required from FDEP, FFS, 
FWC, or Water Management District, depending upon ownership and 
management. Permits are also required for work on county-owned lands.

Summary of Factor D

    Despite existing regulatory mechanisms, the Florida bonneted bat 
remains at risk due to the effects of a wide array of threats (see 
Factors A and E). Based on our analysis of the best available 
information, we find that existing regulatory measures, due to a 
variety of constraints, do not provide adequate protection, and, in 
some instances, may be harmful (i.e., taking of bats as ``nuisance'' 
wildlife). Educational efforts and training should help to raise 
awareness and address some violations of existing regulations. When 
finalized, the FWC's Florida bonneted bat management plan may

[[Page 61033]]

contain additional measures that can help protect habitat. However, we 
do not have information to indicate that the aforementioned regulations 
and programs, which currently do not offer adequate protection to the 
Florida bonneted bat, will be revised and sufficiently supported, so 
that they would be adequate to provide protection for the species in 
the future. Therefore, we find that the existing regulatory mechanisms 
are inadequate to address threats to the species throughout all of its 
range.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

    In general, bat populations are in decline due to their sensitivity 
to environmental stresses and other factors, such as slow reproductive 
rates (Jones et al. 2009, pp. 93-115). The Florida bonneted bat is 
likely affected by a wide array of natural and anthropogenic threats, 
operating singly or synergistically, and in varying immediacy, 
severity, and scope.

Inadvertent and Purposeful Impacts From Humans

    In general, bats using old or abandoned and new dwellings are at 
significant risk. Bats are often removed when they are no longer 
tolerated by humans or inadvertently killed or displaced when 
structures are demolished. Adverse human impacts on bats involve direct 
killing, persecution, vandalism, and disturbance of hibernating and 
maternity colonies (Harvey et al. 1999, p. 13). Belwood (1992, p. 217) 
indicated that bats in south Florida appeared to decline drastically in 
years just prior to that publication. Unpublished data by Belwood from 
a 1982 survey of 100 pest control companies on the southeastern coast 
of Florida showed that requests to remove ``nuisance'' bats from this 
area all but ceased in the 20 years prior to that publication (Belwood 
1992, p. 217). Homeowners and professionals use a variety of methods to 
remove bats, including lethal means (C. Marks and G. Marks, pers. comm. 
2008). Even when attempts are made to remove bats humanely, bats may be 
sealed into buildings (C. Marks and G. Marks, pers. comm. 2008). 
Despite regulations and efforts to raise awareness (see Factor D, 
above), in some situations, bats are still likely removed through 
inhumane and prohibited methods (e.g., removed from roosts with vacuum 
cleaner-like apparatuses) and excluded from artificial roost sites 
during sensitive time periods (e.g., inside the maternity season before 
young are volant (capable of flying)) (A. Kropp, pers. comm. 2009). 
Pest control companies unaware of or not in compliance with the 
regulations that apply to bats have been known to remove them through 
methods other than legal exclusions (FWC 2013, p. 9). Such activities 
can result in direct mortality or injury of adults, juveniles, 
dependent newborn pups, or fetuses, if pregnant females are affected. 
In some cases, excluded individuals may not be able to readily locate 
other suitable roosts (due to competition with other species, lack of 
availability, or other factors). Since the breeding season of the 
Florida bonneted bat is uncertain and adults may have young outside of 
the typical maternity season, the FWC's draft species action plan 
recommends that individuals consult with the FWC before excluding 
Florida bonneted bats from a roost at any time of the year (FWC 2013, 
p. 10).
    In his dissertation on the ecological distribution of bats in 
Florida, Jennings (1958, p. 102) stated that Florida bonneted bats are 
encountered more often by humans than other bat species known to 
frequent the Miami area. He attributed this to the species' habits, 
which make it more conducive to discovery by humans. Jennings (1958, p. 
102) noted, ``Some individuals were taken in shrubbery by gardners 
[sic], some flew into houses at dusk and other isolated individuals 
were taken under conditions indicating injury of some kind.'' The 
Florida bonneted bat's ability to adapt well to manmade structures 
contributes to its vulnerability and has likely been a factor in its 
decline (C. Marks and G. Marks, pers. comm. 2008). Since roosting sites 
are largely unknown, the potential to remove and exclude Florida 
bonneted bats from human dwellings and artificial structures, either 
inadvertently or accidentally, is high. Despite regulatory protections 
provided under Florida law (see Factor D, above), direct and indirect 
threats from humans continue, especially in urban, suburban, and 
residential areas.
    Similarly, Robson (1989, p. 15) stated that urban development has 
resulted in the persecution of bats wherever they come in contact with 
humans: ``Seemingly innocuous activities like removing dead pine or 
royal palm trees, pruning landscape trees (especially cabbage palms), 
sealing barrel-tile roof shingles with mortar, destroying abandoned 
buildings, and clearing small lots of native vegetation cumulatively 
may have a severe impact on remaining populations in urban areas'' 
(Robson 1989, p. 15). As the species may also use palm fronds for 
roosting, the trimming of fronds and removal of mature palm trees for 
landscaping may negatively impact individuals (K. Gillies, in litt. 
2012). Harvey et al. (1999, p. 13) indicated that disturbance to summer 
maternity colonies of bats is extremely detrimental. In general, 
maternity colonies of bats do not tolerate disturbance, especially when 
flightless newborns are present (Harvey et al. 1999, p. 13). Newborns 
or immature bats may be dropped or abandoned by adults if disturbed 
(Harvey et al. 1999, p. 13). Disturbance to maternity colonies of the 
Florida bonneted bat may be particularly damaging because of this 
species' low fecundity and low abundance. In short, wherever this 
species occurs in or near human dwellings or structures, it is at risk 
of inadvertent or purposeful removal, displacement, and disturbance.
    Routine maintenance and repair of bridges and overpasses is a 
potential threat. Bats can use highway structures either as day or 
night roosts (Keeley and Tuttle 1999, p. 1). An estimated 24 of the 45 
species of bats in the United States have been documented to use 
bridges or culverts as roosts, and 13 other bat species are likely to 
use such structures based upon their known roosting preferences (Keeley 
and Tuttle 1999, p. 1). To date, the Florida bonneted bat has not been 
documented to use these structures. However, a large colony of 
Brazilian free-tailed bats was documented using the I-75 overpass at 
the entrance of Babcock-Webb WMA, and a single Florida bonneted bat 
call was recorded within 1.6 km (1.0 mi) of this overpass (S. Trokey, 
pers. comm. 2008c). Given the species' flight capabilities and roosting 
behaviors, the Florida bonneted bat could use this overpass or other 
such structures (C. Marks and G. Marks, pers. comm. 2008; S. Trokey, 
pers. comm. 2008c). The colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats was 
excluded from the overpass in October 2011, prior to a widening project 
on I-75, after the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) 
coordinated the exclusion with FWC and the FBC (FWC, in litt. 2012). 
The FWC had also constructed a community bat house near the overpass in 
2009, to provide an alternate roost site (J. Morse, pers. comm. 2010). 
Although it is not known if Florida bonneted bats will use community 
bat houses, space was included to accommodate larger-bodied bats in 
that structure (J. Morse, pers. comm. 2010). To date, the species has 
not been found in the large community bat house at this site.
    Maintenance and repair of bridges and overpasses or other 
infrastructure may impact this species. For example, when bridges and 
overpasses are

[[Page 61034]]

cleaned, bats may be subjected to high water pressure from hoses, which 
likely results in injury or death (C. Marks, pers. comm. 2007). 
Incidences involving high pressure water hoses have reportedly 
decreased in Florida, and the FDOT is working with FWC to increase 
their efforts to protect bats during maintenance and repair activities 
at bridge sites with bats (FWC, in litt. 2012).

Competition for Tree Cavities

    Suitable natural roost sites in south Florida appear limited, and 
competition for available tree cavities may be greater now than 
historically. In 1992, Belwood (1992, p. 220) stated that tree cavities 
are rare in southern Florida and that competition for available 
cavities from native wildlife (e.g., southern flying squirrel, red-
headed woodpecker, corn snake) was intense. Competition for cavities 
since that time has presumably increased, due largely to continued loss 
of cavity trees and habitat (see Factor A, above) and the influx of 
nonnative or introduced species, which vie for available roosting or 
nesting locations. Native wildlife and dozens of other nonnative or 
introduced species (e.g., European starlings, black rats, Africanized 
honey bees) in south Florida also now compete for tree cavities for 
nesting, roosting, or other uses (W. Kern, Jr., in litt. 2012; M. 
Ludlow, in litt. 2012).
    In addition, numerous species of nonnative birds now occur in 
Florida, and many are cavity nesters. More than 30 species of parrots 
and 2 to 3 species of mynahs observed in the wild in south Florida use 
cavities, and some may be competing with the Florida bonneted bat and 
other native wildlife, for available natural or artificial structures 
(W. Kern, Jr., in litt. 2012; http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/birds/). Africanized honey bee hybrids, established in 
Florida in 2005, are having significant impacts on cavity-nesting 
wildlife throughout their expanding range in Central America, South 
America, the Caribbean, and southeastern United States (Kern, Jr. 2011, 
pp. 1-4; W. Kern, Jr., in litt. 2012). Africanized honey bee hybrids 
now occupy the entire range of the Florida bonneted bat (W. Kern, Jr., 
in litt. 2012).
    In summary, the extent of competition for cavity trees in south 
Florida is not well understood. It appears that cavity trees are 
limited and competition is greater now than historically. Despite the 
lack of data, the possibility certainly exists for the Florida bonneted 
bat to be impacted by competition for tree cavities from native or 
nonnative wildlife.

Proposed Wind Energy Facilities

    Wind power is one of the fastest growing sectors of the energy 
industry (Horn et al. 2008, p. 123; Cryan and Barclay 2009, p. 1330), 
and the development of wind energy facilities in Florida may be of 
particular concern for the Florida bonneted bat as demand increases.
    Migratory, tree-dwelling, and insectivorous bat species are being 
killed at wind turbines in large numbers across North America (Kunz et 
al. 2007, pp. 317-320; Cryan and Barclay 2009, pp. 1330-1340). Although 
it is not clear why such species are particularly susceptible (Boyles 
et al. 2011, p. 41), Kunz et al. (2007, pp. 315-324) proposed 11 
hypotheses for the large numbers of fatalities at wind energy 
facilities. Some of these include attraction to tall structures as 
potential roost sites, attraction to enhanced foraging opportunities 
(e.g., insects attracted to heat of turbines), echolocation failure, 
electromagnetic field disorientation, and decompression (rapid pressure 
changes causing internal injuries or disorientation of bats while 
foraging). Similarly, Cryan and Barclay (2009, pp. 1330-1340) 
categorized the causes of fatalities into two categories: proximate, 
which explain the direct means by which bats die, and ultimate, which 
explain why bats come close to turbines.
    Based upon data modified from Johnson (2005 as cited in Arnett et 
al. 2008, p. 64), researchers found that the Brazilian free-tailed bat 
comprised 85.6 percent of bat mortalities noted at a wind energy 
facility in Woodward, Oklahoma, and 41.3 percent of bat mortalities at 
a High Wind, California, wind energy facility. Since the Florida 
bonneted bat is also a free-tailed bat, it may demonstrate some similar 
behaviors that place it at risk when encountering wind energy 
facilities.
    Bat mortalities at wind energy facilities may be seasonal in nature 
(Johnson 2005, as cited in Kunz et al. 2007, p. 317). Most documented 
mortalities in North America occurred between late summer and early 
fall (Johnson 2005, as cited in Arnett et al. 2008, p. 66); Kunz et al. 
2007, p. 317; Arnett et al. 2008, pp. 65-66). Taller turbines with 
greater rotor-swept areas may be responsible for more bat mortalities 
than shorter turbines with smaller rotor-swept areas (Arnett et al. 
2008, p. 68). Bat mortalities are absent where turbines are not 
spinning, indicating that bats do not strike stationary blades or 
towers (Kerns et al. 2005, p. 91). Fatalities at wind energy facilities 
tend to occur when wind speeds are <6m/second (19.7 ft/second) (Kerns 
et al. 2005, p. 76). Bat mortalities were also negatively correlated 
with rain (Kerns et al. 2005 p. 76). It should be noted, however, that 
mortality monitoring at wind energy facilities is not standardized, and 
there is a paucity of data for analysis. Most studies include less than 
a full field season and may miss significant bat mortality events. 
Differences between sites including scavenging rates, carcass 
detection, and observer bias may all contribute to variations in bat 
mortality records (Arnett et al. 2008, pp. 71-72).
    The cause of bat mortality at wind energy facilities is not a 
simple one of direct contact with blades or towers. Baerwald et al. 
(2008, pp. 695-696) found that barotrauma is the cause of death in a 
high proportion of bats found at wind energy facilities. Barotrauma 
involves tissue damage to air-containing structures (such as lungs) 
caused by rapid or excessive pressure change; wind turbine blades may 
create zones of low pressure as air flows over them. In their 
examination, Baerwald et al. (2008, pp. 695-696) found 90 percent of 
the bat fatalities involved internal hemorrhaging consistent with 
barotrauma, suggesting that even if echolocation allows for bats to 
detect and avoid turbine blades, they may be incapacitated or killed by 
internal injuries caused by rapid pressure reductions that they cannot 
detect. Baerwald et al. (2008, pp. 695-696) suggested that the 
differences in respiratory anatomy between bats and birds may explain 
the higher incidence of bat fatalities from wind energy facilities (see 
also Barclay et al. 2007, pp. 381-387). In short, the large pliable 
lungs of bats expand when exposed to sudden drop in pressure, causing 
tissue damage, whereas birds' compact, rigid lungs do not respond in 
the same manner (Baerwald et al. 2008, pp. 695-696).
    Wind turbine facilities are being planned for sites east and west 
of Lake Okeechobee, and these may have an impact on the Florida 
bonneted bat (M. Tucker, in litt. 2012). One proposed facility in 
Glades County is roughly 14.5 km (9 mi) south of locations where the 
species was recorded on the Kissimmee River in 2008 (M. Tucker, in 
litt. 2012). In 2011, ``possible'' Florida bonneted bat calls were also 
recorded on the proposed project site (C. Coberly, pers. comm. 2012). 
Potential impacts from this proposed facility cannot be accurately 
assessed at this time because it is not clear that the species uses the 
site (i.e., occurs on site or moves to it during activities such as 
foraging). The other proposed facility in Palm Beach

[[Page 61035]]

County has not recorded Florida bonneted bat calls on site (C. Newman, 
pers. comm. 2012), and this county is not part of the species' known 
historical or current range. Both wind energy development companies 
have indicated that areas around Lake Okeechobee are the most suitable 
sites in Florida for wind development, and if successfully developed, 
additional sites could be proposed, increasing the risk of impacts from 
wind energy to the Florida bonneted bat (M. Tucker, in litt. 2012).
    While bat fatalities from wind energy facilities are well 
documented, potential impacts to the Florida bonneted bat are difficult 
to evaluate at this time, partly due to the uncertainty involving many 
factors (e.g., location of facilities, operations, foraging distance). 
Certain aspects of the species' status and life history may increase 
vulnerability to impacts from wind energy facilities. The species' 
small population and low fecundity make any additional potential 
sources of mortality cause for concern. The species' high and strong 
flight capabilities and fast-hawking foraging behavior may increase 
risk. Conversely, as the species is nonmigratory, potential impacts 
from wind energy facilities may not be as great in magnitude as perhaps 
other bat species that are migratory. Implementation of the Service's 
new land-based wind energy guidelines may also help to avoid and 
minimize some impacts (Service 2012, pp. 1-71).

Pesticides and Contaminants

    The impacts of pesticides and other environmental contaminants on 
bat species are largely unstudied, particularly in the case of the 
Florida bonneted bat. The life history of the Florida bonneted bat may 
make it susceptible to pesticide exposure from a variety of sources. 
Mosquito control spraying activities commonly begin at dusk when 
mosquitoes are most active (http://www.miamidade.gov/publicworks/mosquito-spraying.asp). Because the Florida bonneted bat forages at 
dusk and after dark, the possibility exists for individuals to be 
directly exposed to airborne mosquito control chemicals or to consume 
invertebrates containing pesticide residues from recent applications. 
Additionally, because the Florida bonneted bat has been documented to 
roost in residential areas (Belwood 1992, pp. 219-220), it is possible 
for individuals to be exposed, either directly or through diet, to a 
variety of undocumented, localized pesticide applications conducted by 
homeowners. The potential exposure to or impacts of agricultural 
chemical application on the Florida bonneted bat in Florida are largely 
unknown.
    Organochlorine (OC) pesticides have been linked to lethal effects 
in bats (Clark et al. 1978, p. 1358; Clark et al. 1983, pp. 215-216; 
O'Shea and Clark 2002, p. 239). Such pesticides have not been 
registered for use in the United States for several decades, but due to 
the extreme ability of OCs to persist in the environment, residues are 
still detectable in soil and sediment in some locations in south 
Florida. The possibility exists that the Florida bonneted bat may 
consume invertebrates with elevated OC concentrations in areas with 
substantial OC environmental concentrations, though this scenario would 
be limited to specific sites and would not be expected to be a 
widespread threat. No studies have been conducted that attempt to 
assess the historical impact of OC pesticides on the Florida bonneted 
bat.
    Currently, OC pesticides have largely been replaced with OP, 
carbamate, and pyrethroid pesticides. Carbamate and OP pesticides act 
as cholinesterase inhibitors and are generally more toxic to mammals 
than OC pesticides. However, they are not as persistent in the 
environment and do not tend to bioaccumulate in organisms. Despite this 
lack of persistence, Sparks (2006, pp. 3-4, 6-7) still found OP 
residues in both bats and guano in Indiana and suspected that the 
residues originated from consuming contaminated insects. Pyrethroids, 
one of which is permethrin, are commonly used mosquito control 
pesticides in south Florida that display greater persistence than OP 
and carbamate pesticides, but still degrade much more rapidly than OC 
pesticides and are believed to exhibit low toxicity to mammals.
    Grue et al. (1997, pp. 369-388) reviewed the sublethal effects of 
OPs and carbamates on captive small mammals and birds and found 
impaired thermoregulation, reduced food consumption, and reproductive 
alterations. Clark (1986, p. 193) observed a depression in 
cholinesterase activity in little brown bats following both oral and 
dermal application of the OP pesticide methyl parathion. Bats with 
reduced cholinesterase activity may suffer loss of coordination, 
impaired echolocation, and elongated response time. Alteration of 
thermoregulation could have serious ramifications to bats, given their 
high metabolic and energy demands (Sparks 2006, pp. 1-2). Reduced 
reproductive success would be of concern because the Florida bonneted 
bat already displays a low reproductive rate (Sparks 2006, p. 2). In 
order to accurately evaluate the impact of such pesticides on the 
Florida bonneted bat, additional work characterizing both pesticide 
exposure and effects in bats is needed.
    A reduction in the number of flying insects is a potential 
secondary effect to consider when evaluating the impact of pesticides 
on the Florida bonneted bat. In his status survey for the Florida 
bonneted bat, Robson (1989, p. 15) suggested that mosquito control 
programs are contributing to reduced food supplies for bats. Robson 
(1989, p. 14) attributed the general reduced activity of bats along the 
southeastern coastal ridge to the reduction of forested habitat and 
reduced insect abundance. Although insect activity was not measured, 
Robson (1989, p. 14) noted that the ``lack of insects on the 
southeastern coastal ridge was striking when contrasted to all other 
areas.'' While it is reasonable to suggest that reduced food supply or 
increased exposure to pesticides may have led to the decline of the 
population in the Miami area, this link is only speculative because no 
rigorous scientific studies or direct evidence exists. Timm and 
Genoways (2004, p. 861) indicated that the extant, although small, 
population of the bat in the Fakahatchee-Big Cypress area of southwest 
Florida is located in one of the few areas of south Florida that has 
not been sprayed with pesticides. Marks and Marks (2008a, p. 15) 
contended that if the species' rarity and vulnerability are due to a 
dependence on a limited food source or habitat, then the protection of 
that food source or habitat is critical. Marks (2013, p. 2) also 
recommended that natural habitats conducive to insect diversity be 
protected and that any pesticides be used with caution. At this time, 
however, it is not known what food source or habitat is most important 
to the Florida bonneted bat.
    In addition to pesticide exposure, mercury represents another 
potential threat to the Florida bonneted bat that has not been 
investigated. According to the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, 
the mercury deposition rate in south Florida is among the highest in 
the United States (http://nadp.isws.illinois.edu). The movement of 
mercury through the aquatic system and into the terrestrial food web 
through emergent invertebrates has been documented in other areas 
(Cristol et al. 2008, p. 335; Konkler and Hammerschmidt 2012, p. 1659). 
Assuming that a similar mechanism is occurring in south Florida coupled 
with high mercury deposition rates, the consumption of such 
invertebrates may constitute a pathway for the Florida bonneted bat to 
be exposed to mercury.

[[Page 61036]]

Nam et al. (2012, pp. 1096-1098) documented mercury concentrations in 
brain, liver, and fur in little brown bats near a mercury-contaminated 
site in Virginia that were significantly greater than mercury 
concentrations in the same tissues of little brown bats at a reference 
site, indicating the potential for bats to be exposed to and accumulate 
mercury near mercury-impacted systems. It is likely that the Florida 
bonneted bat experiences some degree of mercury exposure when foraging 
to a large extent above mercury-impacted water bodies. While no known 
studies have attempted to evaluate the impact of mercury on bat 
populations in south Florida, the neurotoxic effects of mercury on 
mammals in general have been well characterized in the scientific 
literature.
    In 2012-2013, the Service worked with FDEP, UF, and other partners 
to analyze available Florida bonneted bat fur samples for total mercury 
in an attempt to assess mercury exposure. Nine fur samples were 
obtained from frozen specimens collected from a bat house in North Fort 
Myers in 2010, following a cold temperature event. An additional six 
fur samples were obtained from available specimens from UF's Natural 
History Museum. Three of the museum specimens were collected in Miami, 
Florida, in the 1950s. The remaining three museum specimens were 
collected from Babcock-Webb WMA in 1979. Results of the mercury 
analysis revealed an overall mean of 24.69 milligram (mg) Hg (mercury)/
kg (kilogram) fur (FDEP 2013, pp. 1-7; A. Sowers, pers. comm. 2013). A 
wide range of variability was observed between the samples as the 
measured values ranged from 5.7 to 57 mg Hg/kg fur (FDEP 2013, pp. 1-7; 
A. Sowers, pers. comm. 2013). For reference, Evers et al. (2012, p. 9) 
provided mercury fur concentrations in 802 bats spread across 13 
species from the northeastern United States. Based upon limited data, 
the mean mercury concentrations of the Florida bonneted bat samples 
(24.69 mg Hg/kg fur) were higher than the means reported for any of the 
13 species (Evers et al. 2012, p. 9). None of the mean mercury 
concentrations of the northeastern bat species exceeded 20 mg Hg/kg fur 
(Evers et al. 2012, p. 9). It should be noted, however, that some of 
the maximum mercury values reported by Evers et al. (2012, p. 9) did 
exceed what was observed as maximum values in the Florida bonneted 
bats. The results from the Florida bonneted bat analysis, compared with 
those of other bat species across the northeast, suggest that exposure 
to mercury is of concern. Further research is needed to determine if 
such mercury exposure is having an adverse impact on the Florida 
bonneted bat.
    In summary, the effects of pesticides and contaminants on bat 
populations in general have not been studied thoroughly. In the case of 
the Florida bonneted bat, data concerning the effects of pesticides and 
other contaminants are virtually nonexistent. Despite this lack of 
data, the possibility exists for the Florida bonneted bat to be exposed 
to a variety of compounds through multiple routes of exposure. 
Additionally, areas with intensive pesticide activity may not support 
an adequate food base for the species. Further study is required to 
more fully assess the risk that pesticides and contaminants pose to the 
Florida bonneted bat.

Ecological Light Pollution

    Ecological light pollution is described as artificial light that 
alters the natural patterns of light and dark in ecosystems (Longcore 
and Rich 2004, p. 191). It includes ``direct glare, chronically 
increased illumination, and temporary, unexpected fluctuations in 
lighting,'' and many sources (e.g., streetlights, lighted buildings and 
towers, sky glow) contribute to the phenomenon (Longcore and Rich 2004, 
pp. 191-192). Depending upon scale and extent, ecological light 
pollution can have demonstrable effects on behavioral and population 
ecology of organisms, by disrupting orientation (or causing 
disorientation), affecting movements (attraction or repulsion), 
altering reproductive behaviors, and influencing communication 
(Longcore and Rich 2004, pp. 193-195). Behaviors exhibited by 
individuals in response to artificial lighting can affect community 
interactions (e.g., competition and predation), and cumulative effects 
have the potential to disrupt key ecosystem functions (Longcore and 
Rich 2004, pp. 195-196).
    The effects of artificial lighting on bats and their prey have been 
partially studied. A wide array of insects have been found to be 
attracted to lights (Frank 1988, pp. 63-93; Eisenbeis and Hassel 2000, 
Kolligs 2000 as cited in Longcore and Rich 2004, p. 194). For example, 
Frank (1988, pp. 63-93) examined the impact of outdoor lighting on 
moths and found that it disturbs many necessary functions and may 
affect some moth populations. Although the primary prey items for the 
Florida bonneted bat are not known, it is possible that artificial 
lighting may be affecting insect abundance or availability and prey 
base in some locations.
    Some species of bats are attracted to artificial lights to exploit 
accumulations of insects that congregate at light sources (Griffin 
1958; Bell 1980; Belwood and Fullard 1984; Haffner and Stutz 1985/86; 
Baagee 1986; Schnitzler et al. 1987; Barak and Yom-Tov 1989 as cited in 
Rydell 1991, p. 206; Frank 1988, pp. 63, 76). In one study examining 
seasonal use of illuminated areas in Sweden, Rydell (1991, p. 206) 
found significant concentrations of foraging northern bats (Eptesicus 
nilssoni) only in villages illuminated by streetlights, supporting the 
hypothesis that northern bats were attracted to the villages by lights 
and not houses. Artificial lights appeared to provide local patches of 
food for some bat species during periods that may be critical for 
survival (Rydell 1991, pp. 203-207). In another study, Rydell (1992, 
pp. 744-750) examined the exploitation of insects around streetlamps by 
bats in Sweden and found that only the fast-flying species that use 
long-range echolocation systems regularly foraged around streetlamps, 
but others did not. Longcore and Rich (2004, p. 195) suggested that the 
increased food concentration at artificial light sources may be a 
positive effect for those species that can exploit such sources, but it 
also could result in altered community structure.
    The Florida bonneted bat's behavioral response to ecological light 
pollution has not been examined, and effects are not known. The 
species' fast-flight and long range flight capabilities may make it 
more able to exploit insects congregated at artificial light sources or 
more susceptible to risks associated with such responses (e.g., 
increased predation or harm from humans). Alternatively, artificial 
lighting may not be influencing the species' foraging or other 
behaviors. Research on the effects of artificial lighting on the 
Florida bonneted bat and its prey would be beneficial.

Effects of Small Population Size, Isolation, and Other Factors

    The Florida bonneted bat is vulnerable to extinction due to its 
small population size, restricted range, few occupied areas, low 
fecundity, and relative isolation. The Florida bonneted bat only occurs 
in south Florida and only in limited numbers (Timm and Genoways 2004, 
pp. 861-862; Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 11, 15; 2008b, p. 4; 2012, pp. 
12-15). Based on the small number of locations where calls were 
recorded, the low numbers of calls recorded at each location, and the 
fact

[[Page 61037]]

that the species forms small colonies, Marks and Marks (2008a, p. 15) 
stated that it is possible that the entire population of Florida 
bonneted bats may number less than a few hundred individuals. Other 
experts suggested the population may be ``in the hundreds or low 
thousands'' (FWC 2011b, p. 3). Due to its small population size and 
restricted range, the species is considered to be one of the ``most 
critically endangered'' mammals in North America (Timm and Genoways 
2004, p. 861). In general, species with restricted ranges are often 
characterized by small population sizes and high habitat specialization 
and are, therefore, more vulnerable to stochastic, demographic, and 
environmental processes (Lande et al. 2003 as cited in Lee and Jetz 
2011, p. 1333).
    In a vulnerability assessment, the FWC's biological status review 
team determined that the species met criteria or listing measures for 
geographic range, population size and trend, and population size and 
restricted area (Gore et al. 2010, pp. 1-2). For geographic range, the 
review team estimated that the species occurs in a combined area of 
roughly 17,632 km\2\ (6,808 mi\2\), well below the criterion of <20,000 
km\2\ (7,722 mi\2\). The review team also inferred a severely 
fragmented range, with three subpopulations, all of which occur in 
coastal locations susceptible to hurricanes and other losses in habitat 
(see Climate Change and Sea Level Rise and Land Use Changes and Human 
Population Growth, above). The review team also inferred continuing 
decline in both extent of occurrence and area, extent, or quality of 
habitat. For population size and trend, the review team estimated <100 
individuals known in roosts, with an assumed total population of mature 
individuals being well below the criterion of fewer than 10,000 mature 
individuals. Similarly, for population size and restricted area, the 
review team estimated <100 individuals of all ages known in roost 
counts, inferring a total population to number fewer than 1,000 mature 
individuals, and three subpopulations were located in at-risk coastal 
zones.
    Slow reproduction and low fecundity are also serious concerns 
because this species produces only one young at a time and roosts 
singly or in small groups (FBC 2005, p. 1; Timm and Arroyo-Cabrales 
2008, p. 1). Assuming a lifespan of 10 to 20 years for bats of this 
size (Wilkinson and South 2002, pp. 124-131), the average generation 
time is estimated to be 5 to 10 years (Gore et al. 2010, p. 7). The 
small numbers within localized areas may also make the Florida bonneted 
bat vulnerable to extinction due to genetic drift (loss of unique genes 
through time), inbreeding depression (reduced fitness or survival due 
to low genetic diversity), extreme weather events (e.g., hurricanes), 
and random or chance changes to the environment (Lande 1988, pp. 1455-
1459; Smith 1990, pp. 310-321) that can significantly impact its 
habitat (see Environmental Stochasticity, below). Information on the 
extent of genetic diversity in historical or current populations is 
lacking.
    In general, isolation, whether caused by geographic distance, 
ecological factors, or reproductive strategy, will likely prevent the 
influx of new genetic material and can result in low diversity, which 
may impact viability and fecundity (Chesser 1983, pp. 66-77). Distance 
between subpopulations or colonies, the small sizes of colonies, and 
the general low number of bats may make recolonization unlikely if any 
site is extirpated. Isolation of habitat can prevent recolonization 
from other sites and potentially result in extinction. The probability 
of extinction increases with decreasing habitat availability (Pimm et 
al. 1988, pp. 758-762, 776; Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 162-165; 
Thomas 1994, pp. 373-378; Kale 1996, pp. 7-11). Although changes in the 
environment may cause populations to fluctuate naturally, small and 
low-density populations are more likely to fluctuate below a minimum 
viable population (i.e., the minimum or threshold number of individuals 
needed in a population to persist in a viable state for a given 
interval) (Shaffer 1981, pp. 131-134; Shaffer and Samson 1985, pp. 146-
151; Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 19-34). If populations become 
fragmented, genetic diversity will be lost as smaller populations 
become more isolated (Rossiter et al. 2000, pp. 1131-1135). 
Fragmentation and aspects of the species' natural history (e.g., 
reliance on availability of suitable roost sites, constant supply of 
insects) can contribute to and exacerbate other threats facing the 
species.
    Overall, the Florida bonneted bat is vulnerable to a wide array of 
factors, including apparent small population size, restricted range, 
few occurrences, low fecundity, and relative isolation. These threats 
are significant and expected to continue or possibly increase.

Environmental Stochasticity

    Natural events such as severe hurricanes may cause the loss of old 
trees with roosting cavities (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 861). In 
August 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 hurricane, struck southern 
Miami-Dade County with sustained surface windspeeds of more than 145 
mph and gusts exceeding 175 mph (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 861). The 
winds destroyed the majority of older trees and snags within several 
kilometers of the coast that were potentially available as roost trees 
(Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 861; W. Kern, Jr., in litt. 2012). Timm and 
Genoways (2004, p. 861) indicated that habitat loss from development 
(see Factor A), increased use of pesticides, and Hurricane Andrew may 
have had a significant impact on an already small population of the 
Florida bonneted bat. For example, historical hurricane damage in the 
Miami area eliminated all of the large pine snags in one study area, 
leaving less than half a dozen large snags within a 526-ha (1,300-ac) 
area (F. Ridgley, pers. comm. 2013b).
    Several less intense hurricanes have impacted both coasts of 
Florida during the past decade. Acoustical surveys conducted in south 
Florida prior to the hurricane season of 2004 (from 1997 through 2003) 
were compared with results after the hurricanes (Marks and Marks 2008a, 
pp. 12, D1-D6, E1-E26). The limited number of locations and low number 
of recorded calls suggested that the species was rare before the 2004 
storm season and that the population remained low afterward (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, pp. 12-15). Prior to the 2004 hurricane season, calls were 
recorded at 4 of 10 locations; after the hurricane season, calls were 
recorded at 9 of 44 locations (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 12-15). 
Actions taken by a private landowner to reinforce bat houses prior to 
Hurricane Charlie in 2004, and Hurricane Wilma in 2005, likely 
prevented the only known extant roost site (at that time) from being 
destroyed; these storms caused significant damage to both trees and 
other property on the site (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2008c).
    Major impacts of intense storms may include mortality during the 
storm, exposure to predation immediately following the storm, loss of 
natural or artificial roost sites, and impacts on foraging areas and 
insect abundance (Marks and Marks 2008a, pp. 7-9; W. Kern, Jr. in litt. 
2012; R. Timm, in litt. 2012). In general, bats could be blown into 
stationary objects or impacted by flying debris, resulting in injury or 
mortality (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 7). Trees with cavities can be 
snapped at their weakest point, which for the Florida bonneted bat may 
have the most severe impact since the species uses cavities (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 8); competition for available cavities in south Florida 
is intense (Belwood 1992, p. 220), and suitable roosting sites in

[[Page 61038]]

general are often limiting factors (Humphrey 1975, pp. 341-343). 
Displaced bats may be found on the ground or other unsuitable locations 
and exposed to natural predators, domestic pets, and humans (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, p. 8). As pregnant females have been found in June through 
September, hurricanes in Florida can occur at critical life-history 
stages--when females are pregnant or rearing young--possibly resulting 
in losses of pregnant females, newborns, or juvenile pups (Marks and 
Marks 2008a, pp. 7-9). Because the entire population may be less than a 
few hundred individuals (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 15; 2012, pp. 12-
15), the Florida bonneted bat may not be able to withstand losses from 
intense storms or storms at a critical life-history stage. 
Alternatively, less intense hurricanes or mild, isolated storms may 
create roosting opportunities, if tree snags (dead trees) are left in 
place.
    According to the Florida Climate Center, Florida is by far the most 
vulnerable State in the United States to hurricanes and tropical storms 
(http://climatecenter.fsu.edu/topics/tropical-weather). Based on data 
gathered from 1856 to 2008, Klotzbach and Gray (2009, p. 28) calculated 
the climatological and current-year probabilities for each State being 
impacted by a hurricane and major hurricane. Of the coastal States 
analyzed, Florida had the highest climatological probabilities for 
hurricanes and major hurricanes, with a 51 percent probability of a 
hurricane and a 21 percent probability of a major hurricane over a 152-
year timespan. Of the States analyzed, Florida also had the highest 
current-year probabilities, with a 45 percent probability of a 
hurricane and an 18 percent probability of a major hurricane (Klotzbach 
and Gray 2009, p. 28). Based upon data from the period 1886-1998, 
Neumann et al. (1999, pp. 29-30) also found that the number of tropical 
cyclones within south Florida is high; analyses suggested that areas 
within the species' range (e.g., Fort Myers, Miami) are expected to 
experience more than 50 occurrences (tropical cyclones) per 100 years. 
In addition, the analyses suggested that the incidence of hurricanes in 
south Florida was roughly 30 per 100 years, higher than any other area 
except for North Carolina (Neumann et al. 1999, pp. 29-30). The number 
of major hurricanes (roughly 14 per 100 years) was higher than any 
other area examined (Neumann et al. 1999, p. 30).
    Studies suggest that the frequency of high-severity hurricanes in 
the Atlantic will become more frequent as climate warms (Elsner et al. 
2008, pp. 92-95; Bender et al. 2010, pp. 454-458; Grinsted et al. 2012, 
pp. 19601-19605). One model projects a doubling of frequency of 
category 4 and 5 storms by the end of the 21st century with a decrease 
in the overall frequency of tropical cyclones (Bender et al. 2010, pp. 
454-458). In another study that examined records since 1923, warm years 
in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years, 
and a significant trend in the frequency of large surge events was 
detected (Grinsted et al. 2012, pp. 19601-19605). Increases in 
hurricane-generated wave heights have also been detected along the 
Atlantic coast (Komar and Allan 2008, pp. 479-488).
    If hurricanes and tropical storms increase in severity, frequency, 
or distribution, vulnerable, tropical, tree-roosting bat species may be 
heavily impacted (Gannon and Willig 2009, pp. 281-301). Given the 
Florida bonneted bat's tree-roosting habits, apparent low abundance, 
few isolated colonies, and use of coastal areas, the species is at risk 
from hurricanes, storms, or other extreme weather. Depending on the 
location and intensity, it is possible that the majority of Florida 
bonneted bats could be killed in a fairly broad area during a single, 
large, high-intensity hurricane (R. Timm, in litt. 2012). More frequent 
and intense storms, increased storm surges, and coastal flooding can 
impact Florida bonneted bats and roosting and foraging habitat. Due to 
the bat's overall vulnerability, intense hurricanes are a significant 
threat, which is expected to continue or increase in the future.
    Other processes to be affected by climate change include 
temperatures, rainfall (amount, seasonal timing, and distribution), and 
storms (frequency and intensity). Temperatures are projected to rise 
approximately 2 [deg]C to 5 [deg]C (3.6[emsp14][deg]F to 
9[emsp14][deg]F) for North America by the end of this century (IPCC 
2007, pp. 7-9, 13). In addition to climate change, weather variables 
are extremely influenced by other natural cycles, such as El 
Ni[ntilde]o Southern Oscillation with a frequency of every 4 to 7 
years, solar cycle (every 11 years), and the Atlantic Multi-decadal 
Oscillation. All of these cycles influence changes in Floridian 
weather. The exact severity, direction, and distribution of all of 
these changes at the regional level are difficult to project.
    This species is also vulnerable to prolonged extreme cold weather 
events. Air temperatures dropped to below freezing and reached a low of 
-2.0 [deg]C (28[emsp14][deg]F) in ENP on January 11, 2010; air 
temperatures at Royal Palm for the first 2 weeks of January marked the 
coldest period recorded over the previous 10 years (Hallac et al. 2010, 
p. 1). The effects of this severe and prolonged cold event on the 
Florida bonneted bats or other bats in Florida are not known, but some 
mortality was observed. At least 8 Florida bonneted bats were lost from 
the North Fort Myers colony during the event, before 12 remaining bats 
were brought into captivity, warmed, and fed (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 
2010a). Those rescued were emaciated and in poor condition. Initially, 
only 9 individuals appeared to survive after this event, although 10 
individuals were still alive at this site in April 2010 (S. Trokey, 
pers. comm. 2010a-c). Approximately 30 Brazilian free-tailed bats were 
found dead below a bat house in Everglades City during this event (R. 
Arwood, pers. comm. 2010). Overall, approximately 100 Brazilian free-
tailed bats using bat houses were found dead following this severe cold 
event (C. Marks, pers. comm. 2011). South Florida again experienced 
cold temperatures in December 2010. Temperatures in December 2010 were 
among the coldest on record within ENP (J. Sadle, NPS, pers. comm. 
2011). In the short term, the severe and prolonged cold events in south 
Florida resulted in mortality of at least several adult Florida 
bonneted bats at one observed site (S. Trokey, pers. comm. 2010a). 
However, it is not known if the species persisted at all sites 
previously documented following the prolonged and repeated cold 
temperatures in 2010. Overall, the long-term effects of prolonged and 
repeated cold events on the species are not known.
    Molossids, the family of bats which includes the Florida bonneted 
bat, appear to be an intermediate between tropical and temperate zone 
bat families (Arlettaz et al. 2000, pp. 1004-1014). Members of this 
family that inhabit the warmer temperate and subtropical zones incur 
much higher energetic costs for thermoregulation during cold weather 
events than those inhabiting northern regions (Arlettaz et al. 2000, 
pp. 1004-1014). At such temperatures, bats are likely unable to find 
food and cannot re-warm themselves. Such a stochastic, but potentially 
severe, event poses a significant threat to the entire population. 
Impacts of past cold weather events are evident, but the effect on all 
colonies is not known. Additional extreme weather events are 
anticipated in the future, and such extremes can have disastrous 
impacts on small populations of mammals (R. Timm, pers. comm. 2012).

[[Page 61039]]

Aspects of the Species' Life History and Climate Change Implications

    For bats in general, climate changes can affect food availability, 
timing of hibernation, frequency of torpor, rate of energy expenditure, 
reproduction, and development rate (Sherwin et al. 2012, pp. 1-18). 
Although increased temperatures may lead to benefits (e.g., increased 
food supply, faster development, range expansion), other negative 
outcomes may also occur (e.g., extreme weather, reduced water 
availability, spread of disease) (Sherwin et al. 2012, p. 14). Food 
abundance is a fundamental factor influencing bat activity (Wang et al. 
2010, pp. 315-323). Insectivorous bats are dependent upon ectothermic 
(cold-blooded) prey, whose activity is affected by climate conditions 
(Burles et al. 2009, pp. 132-138). Aerial-hawking species such as the 
Florida bonneted bat are likely highly sensitive to climatic changes 
due to their dependence on a food supply that is highly variable in 
both time and space (Sherwin et al. 2012, p. 3).
    In assessing implications of climate change, Sherwin et al. (2012, 
p. 4) identified two risk factors directly related to foraging: (1) 
Bats inhabiting water-stressed regions, and (2) aerial-hawking species, 
which are reliant on spatially variable food sources. Bats generally 
have higher rates of evaporative water loss than other similarly sized 
terrestrial mammals and birds (Herreid and Schmidt-Nielsen 1966; 
Studier 1970 as cited in Chruszcz and Barclay 2002, p. 24; Webb et al. 
1995, p. 270). Due to their high surface area to volume ratios and 
large, naked flight membranes (wings), the potential for loss of 
evaporative water is generally high (Webb et al. 1995, pp. 269-278). 
Travelling farther to access water and food entails more energy 
expenditure and may affect reproductive success (Sherwin et al. 2012, 
p. 4). Considering foraging risk alone, the Florida bonneted bat may be 
especially susceptible to climate changes since it is an insectivorous, 
aerial-hawking species largely restricted to south and southwest 
Florida, a region expected to become water-stressed in the future (see 
Factor A, above).

Summary of Factor E

    Based on our analysis of the best available information, we have 
identified a wide array of natural and manmade factors affecting the 
continued existence of the Florida bonneted bat. Inadvertent or 
purposeful impacts by humans caused by intolerance or lack of awareness 
(e.g., removal, landscaping activities, and bridge maintenance) can 
lead to mortality or disturbances to maternity colonies. The Florida 
bonneted bat's ability to adapt well to manmade structures has likely 
been a factor in its decline because the bat tends to inhabit 
structures that place it at risk from inadvertent or purposeful harm by 
humans. Competition for tree cavities from native and nonnative 
wildlife is a potential threat. Proposed wind energy facilities in the 
species' habitat can cause mortalities, and this threat may increase as 
the demands for such facilities increase. The species may be exposed to 
a variety of chemical compounds through multiple routes of exposure, 
and intensive pesticide use may alter insect prey availability. 
Ecological light pollution may also be a potential threat. Small 
population size, restricted range, low fecundity, and few and isolated 
colonies are serious ongoing threats. Catastrophic and stochastic 
events are of significant concern. All occupied areas are at risk due 
to hurricanes, which can cause direct mortality, loss of roost sites, 
and other impacts. More frequent intense hurricanes may be anticipated 
due to climate change. Extreme cold weather events can also have severe 
impacts on the population and increase risks from other threats by 
extirpating colonies or further reducing colony sizes. Collectively, 
many of these threats have operated in the past, are impacting the 
species now, and will continue to impact the Florida bonneted bat in 
the future.

Determination of Status

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Florida bonneted bat. The species occurs in limited numbers in a 
restricted range in south Florida. Habitat loss, degradation, and 
modification from human population growth and associated development 
and agriculture have impacted the Florida bonneted bat and are expected 
to further curtail its limited range (see Factor A). Environmental 
effects from climate change, including sea level rise and coastal 
squeeze, are predicted to become severe in the future, resulting in 
additional habitat losses that are expected to place the species at 
greater risk (see Factor A).
    The Florida bonneted bat also faces threats from a wide array of 
natural and manmade factors (see Factor E). Effects of small population 
size, restricted range, few colonies, slow reproduction, low fecundity, 
and relative isolation contribute to the species' vulnerability. Other 
aspects of the species' natural history (e.g., aerial-hawking foraging, 
tree-roosting habits) and environmental stochasticity may also 
contribute to its imperilment. Multiple anthropogenic factors are also 
threats (e.g., impacts or intolerance by humans) or potential threats 
(e.g., wind energy projects, ecological light pollution) of varying 
severity. As an insectivore, the species is also likely exposed to a 
variety of pesticides and contaminants through multiple routes of 
exposure; pesticides may also affect its prey base. Given its 
vulnerability, disease and predation (see Factor C) have the potential 
to impact the species. Finally, existing regulatory mechanisms (see 
Factor D), due to a variety of constraints, do not provide adequate 
protection for the species. Overall, impacts from increasing threats, 
operating singly or in combination, place the species at risk of 
extinction.
    Section 3 of the Act defines an endangered species as ``any species 
which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range'' and a threatened species as ``any species which 
is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.'' By all 
indications, the species occurs only in limited numbers within a 
restricted range and faces considerable and immediate threats, which 
place it at risk of extinction. Aspects of the species' natural history 
may also contribute to and exacerbate threats and increase its 
vulnerability to extinction. Since immediate and ongoing significant 
threats to the Florida bonneted bat extend throughout its entire range, 
we have determined that the species is currently in danger of 
extinction throughout all of its range. Because threats extend 
throughout the entire range, it is unnecessary to determine if the 
Florida bonneted bat is in danger of extinction throughout a 
significant portion of its range. Therefore, on the basis of the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we have determined 
that the Florida bonneted bat meets the definition of an endangered 
species under the Act. In other words, we find that a threatened 
species status is not appropriate for the Florida bonneted bat because 
of the severity and immediacy of the threats, the restricted range of 
the species, and its apparent small population size. Consequently, we 
are listing the Florida bonneted bat as an endangered species 
throughout its entire range in accordance with sections 3(6) and 
4(a)(1) of the Act.

[[Page 61040]]

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed, preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan, and revisions to the plan as significant new information 
becomes available. The recovery outline guides the immediate 
implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to 
be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that will achieve recovery of the species, 
measurable criteria that determine when a species may be downlisted or 
delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans 
also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery 
efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery 
tasks. Recovery teams (comprising species experts, Federal and State 
agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) are often 
established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the draft and 
final recovery plans will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our South Florida Ecological Services 
Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, County, State, and Tribal 
lands.
    Once this species is listed (see DATES), funding for recovery 
actions may be available from a variety of sources, including Federal 
budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal 
landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. 
In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Florida 
will be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that 
promote the protection and recovery of the Florida bonneted bat. 
Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species 
recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the 
Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include, but are not limited to: management and any other 
landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the 
Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park 
Service, and U.S. Forest Service; habitat restoration by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service; 
issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) 
permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; permitting of construction 
and management of gas pipeline, power line rights-of-way, and wind 
energy facilities by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; 
construction and maintenance of roads, highways, or bridges by the 
Federal Highway Administration; and pesticide registration by the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, codified at 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. 
Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42-43; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378), it is also 
illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such 
wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies. The Florida 
bonneted bat is listed by the State of Florida; therefore, certain 
State laws also apply. Listing will also require Federal agencies to 
avoid actions that might jeopardize the species (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2)), 
and will provide opportunities for funding of conservation measures and 
land acquisition that would not otherwise be available to them (16 
U.S.C. 1534, 1535(d)).
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species, and at 17.32 for threatened species. With 
regard to endangered wildlife, a permit must be issued for the 
following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation 
or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.

[[Page 61041]]

    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the federally 
listed species.
    We estimate that the following activities would be likely to result 
in a violation of section 9 of the Act; however, possible violations 
are not limited to these actions alone:
    (1) Unauthorized possession, collecting, trapping, capturing, 
killing, harassing, sale, delivery, or movement, including interstate 
and foreign commerce, or harming or attempting any of these actions, of 
Florida bonneted bats. Research activities where Florida bonneted bats 
are handled, captured (e.g., netted, trapped), tagged, fitted with 
radiotransmitters or other instrumentation, or collected will require 
authorization pursuant to the Act.
    (2) Incidental take of the Florida bonneted bat without 
authorization pursuant to section 7 or section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act.
    (3) Sale or purchase of specimens of this taxon, except for 
properly documented antique specimens of this taxon at least 100 years 
old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act.
    (4) Unauthorized destruction or alteration of Florida bonneted bat 
occupied or potentially occupied habitat (which may include, but is not 
limited to, unauthorized grading, leveling, plowing, mowing, burning, 
clearing, lighting, or pesticide application) in ways that kills or 
injures individuals by significantly impairing the species' essential 
breeding, foraging, sheltering, or other essential life functions.
    (5) Unauthorized release of biological control agents that attack 
any life stage of this taxon.
    (6) Unauthorized removal or destruction of cavity trees and other 
natural structures being utilized as roosts by the Florida bonneted bat 
that results in take of the species.
    (7) Unauthorized removal or exclusion from buildings or artificial 
structures being used as roost sites by the species that results in 
take of the species.
    (8) Unauthorized maintenance or repair of bridges or overpasses 
that are being used as roost sites by the Florida bonneted bat that 
results in take of the species.
    (9) Unauthorized building and operation of wind energy facilities 
within areas used by the Florida bonneted bat that results in take of 
the species.
    We will review other activities not identified above on a case-by-
case basis to determine whether they may be likely to result in a 
violation of section 9 of the Act. We do not consider these lists to be 
exhaustive, and we provide them as information to the public.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Field 
Supervisor of the Service's South Florida Ecological Services Field 
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Requests for copies of 
the regulations concerning listed animals and general inquiries 
regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed to the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Permits, 1875 Century 
Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30345 (Phone 404-679-7313; Fax 404-679-7081).

Jeopardy Standard

    Prior to and following listing, the Service applies an analytical 
framework for jeopardy analyses that relies heavily on the importance 
of core area populations to the survival and recovery of the species. 
The section 7(a)(2) analysis is focused not only on these populations 
but also on the habitat conditions necessary to support them.
    The jeopardy analysis usually expresses the survival and recovery 
needs of the species in a qualitative fashion without making 
distinctions between what is necessary for survival and what is 
necessary for recovery. Generally, if a proposed Federal action is 
incompatible with the viability of the affected core area 
populations(s), inclusive of associated habitat conditions, a jeopardy 
finding is considered to be warranted, because of the relationship of 
each core area population to the survival and recovery of the species 
as a whole.

Critical Habitat

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or 
adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines provide criteria, 
establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions

[[Page 61042]]

are based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.

Critical Habitat Prudency

    We found that designation of critical habitat for the Florida 
bonneted bat is prudent. For further discussion, see the proposed 
listing rule (77 FR 60749; October 4, 2012).

Critical Habitat Determinability

    Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(2)) further state that critical 
habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following 
situations exist: (1) Information sufficient to perform the required 
analysis of the impacts of the designation is lacking, or (2) the 
biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to 
permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    In accordance with sections 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas to propose 
as critical habitat, we must consider those physical and biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. These include, 
but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, and rearing (or development) 
of offspring;
    and
    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographical, and ecological 
distribution of a species.
    We conducted an evaluation to find if the designation of critical 
habitat for the Florida bonneted bat is determinable. Based on that 
evaluation, we are currently unable to identify the physical and 
biological features essential for the conservation of the Florida 
bonneted bat because information on those features for this species 
remains uncertain. The apparent poor viability of the species recorded 
in recent years indicates that current conditions are not sufficient to 
meet the basic biological requirements of the species in most areas of 
its current range.
    Species-specific ecological requirements (e.g., natural roost 
sites, seasonal changes in roosting habitat, dietary needs, seasonal 
changes in diet, prime foraging habitat) are currently being 
researched. Population dynamics, such as species interactions and 
community structure, population trends, and population size and age 
class structure necessary to maintain long-term viability, have not 
been fully determined. As we are unable to identify many physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Florida 
bonneted bat, we are unable to identify areas that contain features 
necessary for long-term viability. Therefore, we find that critical 
habitat is not determinable at this time.
    As one peer reviewer stated during the public comment period, 
identifying home ranges and habitat affinities of the Florida bonneted 
bat is imperative to determining the physical and biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. In order for designation 
of critical habitat to be meaningful and effective, the extent of the 
species' range and the species' roosting affinities should be defined 
prior to designation. The Service continues to work with researchers, 
other agencies, and stakeholders on filling large information gaps 
regarding the species and its habitat needs and preferences. We 
continue to fund research and study the habitat requirements of the bat 
and we intend to publish a proposed critical habitat designation for 
the Florida bonneted bat in a separate rule in the near future.

Required Determinations

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act, need not be prepared in connection with 
listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. 
We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in 
the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Field Supervisor, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this rule are the staff members of the South 
Florida Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.


0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by adding an entry for ``Bat, Florida 
bonneted'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 
alphabetical order under Mammals, to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 61043]]



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                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Mammals
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Bat, Florida bonneted............  Eumops floridanus...  U.S.A. (FL)........  Entire.............  E                       822           NA           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
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* * * * *

    Dated: September 19, 2013.
 Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-23401 Filed 10-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P