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February 24, 2011 NEBWG Meeting Notes

Joint Meeting Northeastern Bat Working Group, Midwest Bat Working Group, Southeastern Bat Diversity Network

Louisville, KY


The first NEBWG meeting since 2008 was called to order by Al Hicks, President (for Life). Agenda topics included:
o Selection of new President/Chair
o Discussion on focus/mission of NEBWG in light of WNS and the gap in annual meetings (2009/2010), proposed action items
o Listing of myotids and how to address the need (ways to not have to list)

Listing discussion lead by D. Krusac USFS. Suggestion made to have bat working groups develop small committees to work together to develop a conservation agreement (strategy?) to aid in preventing the need to list species or to address silvicultural concerns should the petitioned eastern small footed bat and northern long-eared bat get listed. A discussion followed on the pros/cons of listing these bat species.

NEBWG Mission/Purpose - Group discussion.
o Original purpose of NEBWG was to share information with academics, governmental agencies consultants, NGOs, interested general public and students working or interested in collaborative bat conservation in the Northeast (that being the 13 states from VA to ME).
o The NEBWG format is informal, no legal status, loosely organized. Annual meetings center on state updates, panel (and group) discussion and presentations.
o NEBWG also has a listserver to facilitate collaboration and information exchange (thank you Lance Risley!).
o NEBWG is a venue to get academics, consultants, government agencies, NGOs, etc. together in a relaxed and informal setting, to identify bat conservation/research needs and come up with the means (people, equipment, brains) to address those needs.

It was unanimously agreed to keep NEBWG going, despite the lack of activity over the past 2 years since everyone was focused on WNS activities. A list of action items for NEBWG to address was suggested for discussion and approval:
o Develop wind energy facility Best Management Practices recommended by NEBWG (should also try to collaborate with the other bat working groups on this).
o Continue the listserve
o Discuss bat rehabilitation with respect to WNS
o Caving issues/decontamination protocols
o Creation of an updated membership list (remember, anyone can join, there are no fees, applications or forms)
o Nominate a NEBWG member to the WNS Steering Committee

Membership list - Marilyn Kitchel (Marilyn_Kitchel@fws.gov) volunteered to gather names from past meetings, the listserve and wherever else they may be hidden to ensure everyone is kept in the loop about future activities, meetings, etc. Thank you Marilyn!

WNS Steering Committee - NEBWG overwhelmingly supports the nomination of Scott Darling (VTDFW) to the WNS Steering Committee. C. Herzog (NYSDEC) will transmit the resolution to the NYSDEC Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources (or someone else in the WNS decision-making realm).

NEBWG Future Meeting - NEBWG members decided to change the command structure of President-for-Life to rotating Chair. There would be 2 co-chairs, the current and incoming, serving for 2 years.

Congratulations are in order! John Chenger was nominated as first incoming co-Chair with Al Hicks remaining as existing co-chair until next year's meeting. Mike Fishman was nominated as the upcoming co-chair (beginning after next year's meeting, though he offered to help John C. with the venue this year). It was also agreed that as a rule, NEBWG meetings should be held the first half of January to ensure less conflicts with the academic calendar.

¬Caving issues - It was agreed that a cave access committee should be forms to develop a statement from NEBWG on cave access in the Northeast.
Greg Turner - Chair
Members - Barb Douglas, Craig Stihler, Peter Youngbaer (voted in absentia), Carl Herzog. Focus on maintaining cave closure during hibernation (prevent disturbance) and review of current FWS cave advisory and any points of disagreement with the NEBWG members.

Wind BMPS - Determined to establish a working committee to address large scale as well as industrial size individual turbines and impacts to bats and management strategies. The Committee will review the draft FWS wind guidelines and provide comments. The committee will distribute the comments to state biologists and NEBWG, SBDN and MBWG members. Scott Darling volunteered to forward a side-by-side comparison of industry/FWS guidelines.
Rick Reynolds - Chair
Members - Craig Stihler, Cal Butchkoski, Scott Darling, Kathy Haffner, Chris Sanders, Holly Niederriter, Stacy Wolbert (PGC), Kristen Watrous

NEBWG Website - Co-Chair John Chenger will set up a new website and post to the listserve when completed. Website could include: committee letters, comments, meeting minutes, photos, history.

Back to the listing discussion - Need to develop survey protocols to collect baseline data or current status and trends. Also, which states are preparing to list additional bat species?
VT, PA in the beginning of their rule-making process for listing cave bats. NY is leaning that way.

A discussion followed on
how to deal with issues that might come up post-listing related to exclusion activities in buildings. Recommendation to develop criteria to avoid the need for permitting most of these activities. E.g. time of year restrictions. NY has posted management practices for nuisance wildlife control specialists.

o Kristen Watrous volunteered to summarize all bat exclusion practices recommended by the states, BCI, John Chenger's website and will provide this to NEBWG.
NEBWG voted to recommend that summer mist net surveys in WNS states (all the states except ME right now in the NEWBG area) should begin to radio track non-listed myotids (i.e. Indiana bats are in a different category due to their federal status) and collect data on summer habitat use in the event they get listed. Important baseline data. Susi von Oettingen and Marilyn Kitchel volunteered to contact National Wildlife Refuges proposing to do bat surveys this summer to see if they will also conduct radio-telemetry on myotids (if they catch any). Reminder that state permits must be obtained first!

Baseline data/Summer survey committee:
Scott Darling - Chair
Members - Carl Herzog, Mark Ford, Marilyn Kitchel, Susi von Oettingen, Kathy Johnson, John Seese, Holly Niederriter.

Rehabilitation - Discussed the possibility of hosting a webinar to discuss draft protocols for rehabilitation of WNS-affected bats. Need to gather state protocols to look at what is occurring in the Northeast. New Jersey is actively permitting rehab. Review potential effects of listing on rehab, recommendations? ID issues with rehab and find out (if possible) how much rehab is actually occurring in the northeast.

Kristina Kocer - Chair
Leslie Sturges (Batworld, voted in absentia), Mick Valent (voted in absentia)


Notes summarized by Susi von Oettingen (Susi_vonOettingen" at "fws.gov). Please contact me with corrections.

And finally - CONGRATULATIONS TO AL HICKS ON HIS RETIREMENT AND A MILLION THANKS FOR HIS GREAT LEADERSHIP, VISION, DEDICATION AND SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE (always seeing the bright side of life) AS THE ONE AND ONLY PRESIDENT FOR LIFE OF NEBWG



Northeast Bat
Working Group

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