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Recovery Strategy for the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus) in Canada - 2017 [Proposed]

Part 1 – Federal addition to the Recovery Plan for the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus) in British Columbia, prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada

Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the Pallid Bat and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of British Columbia and the Pallid Bat Recovery Team, as per section 39(1) of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Province of British Columbia provided the attached recovery plan for the Pallid Bat (Part 2) as science advice to the jurisdictions responsible for managing the species in British Columbia. It was prepared in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment and Climate Change Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Pallid Bat and Canadian society as a whole.

This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment and Climate Change Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

The recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When critical habitat is identified, either in a recovery strategy or an action plan, SARA requires that critical habitat then be protected.

In the case of critical habitat identified for terrestrial species including migratory birds SARA requires that critical habitat identified in a federally protected areaFootnote 1 be described in the Canada Gazette within 90 days after the recovery strategy or action plan that identified the critical habitat is included in the public registry.  A prohibition against destruction of critical habitat under ss. 58(1) will apply 90 days after the description of the critical habitat is published in the Canada Gazette.

For critical habitat located on other federal lands, the competent minister must either make a statement on existing legal protection or make an order so that the prohibition against destruction of critical habitat applies.

If the critical habitat for a migratory bird is not within a federal protected area and is not on federal land, within the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of Canada, the prohibition against destruction can only apply to those portions of the critical habitat that are habitat to which the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 applies as per SARA ss. 58(5.1) and ss. 58(5.2).

For any part of critical habitat located on non-federal lands, if the competent minister forms the opinion that any portion of critical habitat is not protected by provisions in or measures under SARA or other Acts of Parliament, or the laws of the province or territory, SARA requires that the Minister recommend that the Governor in Council make an order to prohibit destruction of critical habitat. The discretion to protect critical habitat on non-federal lands that is not otherwise protected rests with the Governor in Council.

Acknowledgements

The development of this recovery strategy addition was led by Tanya Luszcz, with input and support from Kella Sadler and Matt Huntley (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service - Pacific Region (ECCC CWS-PAC). Additional comments and/or collaborative support was provided by Brian Campbell and Paul Johanson (ECCC CWS – National Capital Region), Orville Dyer (B.C. Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations), Purnima Govindarajulu, and Peter Fielder (B.C. Ministry of Environment). Species experts Daniela Rambaldini, Mark Brigham, Mike Sarell, Allison Haney, Cori Lausen, Dave Johnson, Tom O'Shea, Greg Falxa, and Lori Pruitt (US Fish and Wildlife Service) also contributed valuable inputs on bat data and/or related science advice. Danielle Yu and Sean Butler (ECCC CWS-PAC) provided additional assistance with mapping and figure preparation.

Additions and modifications to the adopted document

The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) that are not addressed in the Recovery Plan for the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus) in British Columbia (Part 2 of this document, referred to henceforth as "the provincial recovery plan") and/or to provide updated or additional information.

Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore, statements in the provincial recovery plan referring to protection of survival/recovery habitat may not directly correspond to federal requirements. Recovery measures dealing with the protection of habitat are adopted; however, whether these measures will result in protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.

1 Critical habitat

This section replaces section 7 "Species Survival and Recovery Habitat" in the provincial recovery plan.

Section 41 (1)(c) of SARA requires that recovery strategies include an identification of the species' critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction. The provincial recovery plan for the Pallid Bat includes a description of the biophysical attributes of survival/recovery habitat. This science advice was used to inform the following critical habitat sections in this federal recovery strategy. Detailed methods and decision-making processes relating to critical habitat identification are archived in a supporting document.

Critical habitat is partially identified in this recovery strategy. A schedule of studies has been included that describes the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat in support of the population and distribution objectives for the species.

Critical habitat for Pallid Bat is identified in this document to the extent possible; as responsible jurisdictions and/or other interested parties conduct research to address knowledge gaps, the existing critical habitat methodology and identification may be modified and/or refined to reflect new knowledge.

1.1 Identification of the species' critical habitat

Geospatial location of areas containing critical habitat

Critical habitat for the Pallid Bat is identified based on all available verified occurrence recordsFootnote 2 for the species, in the southern Okanagan Valley in south-central British Columbia (Ponderosa Pine very hot (PPxh1), and Bunchgrass very hot (BGxh1) biogeoclimatic ecosystem subzones (Meidinger and Pojar 1991)). Within these environments, Pallid Bats require both roosting and foraging habitat to support their life history stages.

Roosting habitat is necessary to support the activities and biological needs of all life history stages (including sleeping, mating, raising young, cover from predators, torpor, and hibernation). Roosting habitat is mainly comprised by cliffs and rock crevices, which are stable features on the landscape; however, Pallid Bats will also use trees for night roosting (e.g., Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), deciduous trees in riparian areas, and fruit trees in orchards).  Pallid Bats appear to be loyal to specific roosting areas, and they are continually used across generations (Rambaldini and Brigham 2004). Critical habitat for roosting is identified based on: (1) known/observed roosting locations, as well as (2) the application of habitat suitability models (Warman et al. 1998Footnote 3; Sinnerman 1982Footnote 4) to other types of occurrence observations (e.g. observations while flying, vocalizations, mist-netting and dead bats). Where roosting habitat that is of high to moderate suitability for Pallid Bat roosting is found within foraging distance (4.5 km) of an occurrence observation, it is identified as roosting critical habitat.

Foraging habitat is necessary to support adults and volant (capable of flight) juveniles between April and October. The specific area around roosts used as foraging habitat by the Pallid Bat in B.C. requires additional research; however, the best available information (i.e., existing data from B.C. and the U.S.A.) supports a 4.5 km maximum average foraging distance.Footnote 5 Therefore the area containing foraging critical habitat is identified as those areas within 4.5 km of roosting critical habitat.

Biophysical attributes of critical habitat
  • Roosting habitat: Naturally occurring rock crevices (≥ 3 cm wide; Miller and Jensen 2013; Schorr and Siemers 2013) of all orientations (from vertical to horizontal) within cliff faces and talus slopes:
    • Day Roosts (used April to October, inclusive): Naturally occurring rock crevices within cliff faces, or large diameter talus
    • Hibernacula (used October to April, inclusiveFootnote 6): Day roost locations, deep narrow crevices inside caverns, and caves
  • Foraging Habitat (used April to October, inclusive):
    • Natural features (preferred use): natural grassland, shrub-steppe habitat, or open forest (Ponderosa Pine) habitat types, talus slopes that support larger, ground-based prey
    • Anthropogenic features (opportunistic use): agricultural and/or modified habitats that support prey (large arthropods, small vertebrates), including ranch pastures, vineyards, and old fruit orchards, gravel roads

The areas containing critical habitat for the Pallid Bat (totalling 35,945.6 ha) are presented in Figures 1 and 2. Critical habitat for the Pallid Bat in Canada occurs within the shaded polygons (units) shown on this map, where the biophysical attributes described in the above section are met. As the Pallid Bat will forage in/near areas characterized as roosting habitat, the pink polygons (units) represent areas containing roosting and foraging habitat, whereas the yellow polygons (units) outside the roosting areas represent only foraging habitat. Unsuitable habitats such as the running surface of paved roads and railways, open water (lakes, rivers), and all habitat above 800 m in elevation are not known to possess the attributes required by the Pallid Bat for roosting and/or foraging, and they are not identified as critical habitat even when they occur within the shaded polygons (i.e., detailed geospatial units containing critical habitat).

A schedule of studies has been included to provide the information necessary to complete the identification of critical habitat. The identification of critical habitat will be updated when the information becomes available, either in a revised recovery strategy or action plan(s).

Figure 1. Critical habitat for Pallid Bat in the Okanagan Valley (north) of B.C. is represented by the shaded pink polygons (roosting and foraging critical habitat), and the shaded yellow polygons (additional foraging critical habitat), where the criteria set out in Section 1.1 are met.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 1

The areas surrounding the Okanagan Falls region in the Northern Okanagan Valley containing two classes of critical habitat for the Pallid Bat are highlighted in this map. A smaller extent indicator map shows that the habitat extends from the Okanagan Falls area within the Okanagan Valley to the US border. Critical habitat classified as "Detailed unit(s) within which Foraging Critical Habitat is found" fills the Okanagan valley in a north-south orientation, surrounding most of Shaha Lake in the north to Penticton and extending south to the US border.  "Detailed unit(s) within which Roosting and Foraging Critical Habitat is found" is located in discontinuous patches bounded by the first class of habitat within the valley. The discontinuous habitat where foraging and roosting is found is smaller than the area covered by the foraging critical habitat.  There are some small patches located within the center of the valley that are not critical habitat.

Figure 2. Critical habitat for Pallid Bat in the Okanagan Valley (south) of B.C. is represented by the shaded pink polygons (roosting and foraging critical habitat), and the shaded yellow polygons (additional foraging critical habitat), where the criteria set out in Section 1.1 are met.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 2

The areas in the Southern Okanagan Valley containing two classes of critical habitat for the Pallid Bat are highlighted in this map. A smaller extent indicator map shows that the habitat extends from the Okanagan Falls area within the Okanagan Valley to the US border. Critical habitat classified as "Detailed unit(s) within which Foraging Critical Habitat is found" fills the Okanagan valley in a north-south orientation, extending north of the US border to just south of the Okanagan Falls area (which is displayed on Figure 1).  "Detailed unit(s) within which Roosting and Foraging Critical Habitat is found" is located in discontinuous patches bounded by the first class of habitat within the valley. Most notably, the critical habitat where both roosting and foraging is found is much sparser and patchy in the southern Okanagan than the northern Okanagan.  There are some small patches located within the center of the valley that are not critical habitat.

1.2 Schedule of studies to identify Critical habitat

The following schedule of studies (Table 1) describes the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat for the Pallid Bat. This section addresses parts of critical habitat that are known to be missing from the identification based on information that is available at this time. Actions required to address future refinement of critical habitat (such as fine-tuning boundaries, and/or providing greater detail about use of biophysical attributes) are not included here. Priority recovery actions to address these kinds of knowledge gaps are outlined in the recovery planning table in the adopted provincial recovery plan.

Table 1. Schedule of studies required to identify critical habitat for the Pallid Bat
ActivityRationaleTimeline
Work with applicable organizations to complete the identification of critical habitat for the Pallid Bat occurring at locations near Osoyoos and Oliver.Critical habitat has not been identified for a portion of lands in these areas. This activity is required such that sufficient critical habitat is identified to meet the population and distribution objectives (Part 2, Recovery Goal and Objectives). 2017-2022
Determine the composition, quantity, and biophysical attributes of trees that are required for night roostingPallid Bat requires habitat for night roosting. Night roost habitat has been partially identified in this recovery strategy, based on rock crevice habitat that is identified for day roosts (i.e., Pallid Bat uses these features for all types of roosting). However, the specific composition, quantity, and quality of coniferous and/or deciduous trees required for night roosting is unknown. This activity is required to complete the identification of critical habitat.2017-2022
Identify the biophysical attributes of roosting habitat that occurs in anthropogenic structuresPallid Bats have been observed to use old mines, buildings, and bridges as day roosts and/or hibernacula in other parts of their range. The extent of information available is inadequate to describe the specific attributes of anthropogenic features that are required by Pallid Bat in Canada. This activity is required to complete the identification of critical habitat.     2017-2022

1.3 Activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat

Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Activities described in Table 1 include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not limited to those listed.

Table 2. Examples of activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for the Pallid Bat. IUCN Threat numbers are in accordance with the IUCN-CMP (World Conservation Union–Conservation Measures Partnership) unified threats classification system (CMP 2010).
Description of activityDescription of effect (biophysical attribute or other) in relation to habitat function lossDetails and relationship threats
Development and/or use of rock climbing routes in roosting habitat.

Installing rock climbing routes can result in the removal or modification of rock and crevice surfaces, which can degrade or destroy the attributes that make it a suitable roost or hibernacula for Pallid Bat (e.g. changing opening structure, or cause slabs to break off)

Recreational users can also destroy roosting habitat by introducing the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome (WNS).

Related IUCN Threat # 6.1, 8.1

Rock climbing is a growing recreational activity in the area and could pose a threat to day roosting habitat.

Introduction of WNS may result in permanent or temporary destruction of roosting habitat. Destruction is most likely when recreational users do not follow proper decontamination protocols as described by provincial Best Management  Practices.

Blasting, quarrying or other cliff/rock removal (e.g. for highway widening or rock quarrying) in roosting habitat.Blasting of rock outcroppings and rock quarrying would likely result in direct and permanent loss of roosting or hibernation habitat. Blasting, quarrying and other types of rock removal can also result in local acoustic or mechanical disturbance to the extent that the habitat is either temporarily or permanently unusable by Pallid Bat for this functionRelated IUCN Threat #: 3.2, 4.1
Conversion of native foraging habitat to residential and commercial development, agricultural, roads and railroads and/or other modified habitat (including conversion of "preferred use" native habitat types to "opportunistic use" anthropogenic habitat types outlined in Section 1.1).Results in the degradation and /or direct loss of optimal Pallid Bat foraging habitat from the landscape. Conversion results in a reduction and/or elimination of the prey species that the Pallid Bat is dependent upon, and thereby a reduction in the capacity of the area to support Pallid Bats.

Related IUCN Threat # 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.3, 4.1

These threats are on-going although likely at lower levels than in the past as many of these areas have already been converted.

Conversion of native habitat into residential housing and urban areas, and/or for agricultural operations (primarily orchards and vineyards) are currently the most likely to cause destruction, however additional development threats (commercial, industrial, tourism, and/or recreation – individually described as negligible threats) may combine to have significant cumulative impacts.

Conversion of existing agricultural and/or other modified anthropogenic habitat types (e.g. ranch pastures, vineyards, old fruit orchards) to residential and commercial development such that there is permanent net loss of opportunistic foraging habitat for Pallid Bat.Modified habitats are sub-optimal for foraging (compared to native habitat) but they are necessary to ensure there is sufficient prey within foraging distance of roosting habitat. Conversion without replacement of functionally equivalent habitat within foraging distance of roosting habitat results in a reduction and/or elimination of the prey species that the Pallid Bat is dependent upon, and thereby a reduction in the capacity of the area to support the Pallid Bat.

Related IUCN Threat # 1.1,1.2,1.3

See related comments above.

2 Statement on action plans

One or more action plans will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by 2022.

3 Effects on the environment and other species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy's (FSDS) goals and targets.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

The provincial recovery plan for the Pallid Bat contains a section describing the effects of recovery activities on other species (i.e., Section 9). Environment and Climate Change Canada adopts this section of the provincial recovery plan as the statement on effects of recovery activities on the environment and other species.

4 References

Baker, M.D., M.J. Lacki, G.A. Falxa, P.L. Droppelman, R.A. Slack and S.A. Slankard.  2008.  Habitat use of Pallid Bats in coniferous forests of northern California. Northwest Science, 82(4):269-275.

Bell, G.P. 1982. Behavioral and ecological aspects of gleaning by a desert insectivorous bat, Antrozous pallidus (Chiroptera:Vespertilionidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.10:217-223.

Brown, P.E., R.D. Berry, K.L. Milner and H. Johnson. 1997. Roosting behavior of pallid bats Antrozous pallidus in the California desert as determined by radio-telemetry. Bat Research News 38: 100.

Chapman, K., K. McGuinness, and R.M. Brigham. 1994. Status of the Pallid Bat in British Columbia. BC Environment, Victoria, BC Wildlife Working Report No. WR-61. 32 pp.

CMP (Conservation Measures Partnership). 2010. Threats Taxonomy.

Lewis, S.E.  1996. Low roost-site fidelity in pallid bats: associated factors and effect on group stability. Behavior, Ecology, Sociobiology 39:335-344.

Meidinger, D. and J. Pojar. 1991. Ecosystems of British Columbia, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC. Special Report No. 6. 330 pp.

Miller, J.C. and W.E. Jensen. 2013. Roost-site characteristics of the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) in the Red Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 116:1-2, 1-10

Rambaldini, D.A. and R.M. Brigham. 2004. Habitat use and roost selection by Pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus) in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Final Report prepared for the British Columbia Ministry of Land, Water and Air Protection, Osoyoos (Nk'Mip) Indian Band, World Wildlife Fund, Canadian Wildlife Service, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, The Nature Trust of British Columbia, and Public Conservation Trust Fund. 65 p.

Rambaldini, D.A. 2006. Behavioural ecology of Pallid bats (Chiroptera: Antrozous pallidus) in British Columbia. Unpublished report prepared for Osoyoos (Nk'Mip) Indian Band (Oliver), BC Ministry of Environment (Penticton), and Canadian Wildlife Service (Delta). 82 p.

Schorr, R.A. and J.L. Siemers. 2013. Characteristics of Roosts of Male Pallid Bats (Antrozous pallidus) In Southeastern Colorado.  The Southwestern Naturalist, 58(4):470-474.

Sinnerman, C. 1982.  Cliff Evaluation in the South Okanagan. University of Victoria, Department of Geography, Co-op Work Term Report, available on EcoCat, the Ecological Reports Catalogue, BC Provincial Government. 38 pp. Accessed: 27 August 2014.

Warman, L., S. Robertson, A. Haney and M. Sarell. 1998. Habitat capability and suitability models for 34 wildlife species, using Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (1:20,000) in the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen study area and Forest Cover Mapping (1:20,000) in the Penticton Forest District. Wildlife Branch, BC Ministry of Lands and Parks. Available: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/acat/public/welcome.do.  Accessed: 27 August 2014.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

These federally protected areas are:  a national park of Canada named and described in Schedule 1 to the Canada National Parks Act, The Rouge National Park established by the Rouge National Urban Park Act, a marine protected area under the Oceans Act, a migratory bird sanctuary under the Migratory Bird Convention Act, 1994 or a national wildlife area under the Canada Wildlife Act see ss. 58(2) of SARA.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Critical habitat is based on all known verified occurrence records that were available to Environment and Climate Change Canada as of 2016. Potential records at 2 sites (north Skaha Lake and Lower Similkameen Valley) are currently not verified and therefore have been excluded from the critical habitat identification.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Roosting habitats in the Warman et al. 1998 model are identified as horizontal rock crevices of steep cliffs, canyon walls, rock outcrops, or talus within the PPxh1 or BGxh1 biogeoclimatic ecosystem subzones. The model applies a four-class rating system. Habitat ranked as High or Moderate suitability for roosting for Pallid Bat are used in the critical habitat identification, where they occur within foraging distance (4.5 km) of  occurrence records.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

The Okanagan Cliffs layer (Sinnerman 1982) is a product based on the evaluation of 91 cliffs in the South Okanagan-Similkameen for 15 priority wildlife species including Pallid Bat (classified within this model as a "large bat"). There are eight categories that are of significance to the cliff evaluation: cliff type, bedrock type, amount of fracturing, fracture angle, amount of ledging, amount of overhangs, amount of talus and type of talus. Habitat ranked as High or Moderate suitability for roosting for Pallid Bat are used in the critical habitat identification, where they occur within foraging distance (4.5 km) of occurrence records.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Information (from B.C., and the U.S.A.) indicates that foraging distances range from 1.5 km to 11 km (Chapman et al. 1994; Lewis 1996;  Brown et al. 1997; Rambaldini 2006; Baker et. al 2008). Rambaldini (2006) found that seven male conspecifics from the same roosting area all foraged within 1.5 km of the day roost in the Okanagan. Research from Chapman et al. (1994) shows maximum nightly movements of up to 4.3 km from day roost to foraging areas in the south Okanagan. Researchers in the U.S.A. provide movement estimates of 3 km (Bell 1982), 4 km (Lewis 1996), and 6.7 km (Baker et al. 2008). In the same study, Baker et al. (2008) found that six lactating females from six different roosts traveled a maximum average foraging distance of 4.52 km. Thus a 4.5 km distance was considered to represent the majority of best available data for Pallid Bat foraging.

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

Pallid Bat use of winter hibernacula in Canada has been recently confirmed by species experts, (C.Lausen and C.Corben), based on acoustic calls recorded December 3 and 5, 2015.

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