USFWS WV Field Office Guidance on Bat Conservation Plans – Proceed Cautiously
In June 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service released the “Guidance on Developing and Implementing a Myotid Bat Conservation Plan.” http://www.fws.gov/westvirginiafieldoffice/PDF/WVFO_IBCP.pdf. Key teaching points about this guidance are raised in the following Q&A:
- Why develop a plan? It can help significantly reduce the likelihood a “take” would occur.
- Will a plan protect me legally? No, it does not confer incidental take exemption or authorization.
- Is the guidance optional? Yes, but if you do not develop such a plan, USFWS promises additional scrutiny.
- What would be the reason for incorporating a plan into any permit or authorizations as prescribed? To make it enforceable under other laws.
In conclusion, as you develop your bat conservation plan, do so with the understanding that its terms will be directly enforceable once incorporated into any permit or authorization.