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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to reclassify a bat that lives in Oklahoma as an endangered species.

The northern long-earned bat is currently listed as threatened, but it faces extinction due to the spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting cave-dwelling bats across North America.

“White-nose syndrome is devastating northern long-eared bats at unprecedented rates, as indicated by this science-based finding,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “The Service is deeply committed to continuing our vital research with partners on reducing the impacts of white-nose syndrome, while working with diverse stakeholders to conserve the northern long-eared bat and reduce impacts to landowners.”

White-nose syndrome has spread across nearly 80% of the species’ entire range since it was listed as threatened in 2015.

The proposal to change the status of the northern long-eared bat comes after an in-depth review of the species. The review found that white-nose syndrome is expected to affect 100% of the bat’s range by 2025.

Data indicates white-nose syndrome has caused estimated declines of 97 to 100% of affected northern long-eared bat populations.

The northern long-eared bat is found in 37 states and the District of Columbia in the eastern and north central United States and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic Coast west to the southern Northwest Territories and eastern British Columbia. These bats spend winter hibernating in caves and abandoned mines. During summer, the northern long-eared bat roosts alone or in small colonies underneath bark or in cavities or crevices of both live and dead trees.

It emerges at dusk to fly primarily through the understory of forested areas, feeding mostly on moths, flies, leafhoppers, caddisflies and beetles.