‘Endangered’ bats delay road projects, cost millions to capture
by Don McKee
Columnist
April 12, 2013 12:00 AM | 1535 views | 4 4 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
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The discovery of a rare kind of bat in Gilmer County illustrates how federal authorities throw common sense out the window and force a lot of money to be spent in the name of protecting “endangered species.”

The trouble started a year ago when “a federally endangered Indiana bat woke from hibernation in her Tennessee cave and traveled to a north Georgia forest,” according to a news release last month from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “The finding is significant for the conservation and recovery of this insect-eating dynamo.

The bat had not been documented in Georgia since 1996 and is battling a deadly disease across its range that spans most of the Eastern half of the U.S.” Now the species may be spreading over north Georgia.

It’s all very exciting for Fish & Wildlife biologists, but it’s a major problem for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Almost 60 road projects in north Georgia are being delayed because the GDOT has to hire experts to find the tiny bats using an acoustic device and mist nets to capture them and attach tiny transmitters to the critters. An additional 50 projects could be affected.

Aside from the delays in road construction, the cost of finding and catching the bats runs “between $80,000 to $120,000 for each project,” the GDOT’s Jill Goldberg told WSB-TV. That could mean $8 million or more total cost to taxpayers before the last project is cleared.

Among the work affected by the bats was the widening of two-lane Highway 92 at the Cobb and Paulding County line.

But the Federal Highway Administration is not completely blind to the problems caused by finding a few bats.

In late March, that agency and the Fish & Wildlife Service announced an agreement with GDOT “to green-light a number of land purchases for high-priority road-building projects even before bat surveys have been completed.”

These projects, according to Fish & Wildlife, “are ones that would be designed in the same manner whether or not bats were present.” But, of course, the projects will have to “undergo appropriate levels of environmental review before construction begins.”

Proving that finding an “endangered species” does not necessarily require stopping everything, the federal agencies approved some Georgia projects including the widening of I-75 and I-575 “with essentially no delays,” Fish &Wildlife said.

Bat watchers spent a scant five nights surveying for bats — and: “In just three days the service recommended approval” for the project to move forward.

That’s how the process should work. If it can be done with five days of surveying and three days to recommend approval for the interstate project, why should there be long delays and costly hunts for bats in the vicinity of other projects in Georgia?

The range of the Indiana bat is “most of the Eastern half of the U.S.” So it’s not like the ones found in Georgia are the only ones existing.

Take five days surveying and then get on with the construction. No need to go batty about this.

dmckee9613@aol.com
Comments
(4)
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Dagda
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April 13, 2013
It is irresponsible to foresake good stewardship for economic convenience. We are a lawful people and the Endangered Species Act is nothing more than a requirement for responsible action. Why do people continue to promote irresponsibility? Is this what it means to be a conservative? It sure wasn't when Richard Nixon was president. What changed?
Pat H
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April 12, 2013
Kill our unborn babies - check. Protect bats - check.
off balance
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April 12, 2013
Don,

shame on you. How dare you apply common sense and economic practicality to an issue in which those with "great hearts" and "love of all life" are showing how great and kind they are.

The fact that the bats can be found in many areas is key here. I want the problem of the disease to be resolved. The health of the bats has a profound effect on the health of our land and our planet. The bats can be found in other areas. Both efforts can coexist.
no idea
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April 12, 2013
The American taxpayer has no idea of how much power the government has over his life. It touches almost everything. And by the way, if you value your sanity, don't ever, under any circumstances mix it up with the great, invincible EPA. They have the power to make your life a living catastrophe! And they all sit around like leeches, ready to take our money!!
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