- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - Officials at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore say crews will take care to avoid displacing roosting endangered bats while they are removing diseased and dying trees from the park.

National Park Service officials are reworking their hazard tree management plan to allow them to take down more diseased trees before they become dangerous to visitors at the popular northern Lower Peninsula attraction along Lake Michigan.

From March or April to October, they’ll be mindful of the endangered Indiana bat, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1j6U5pg ). The bats like to roost in large trees with peeling bark and many crannies, and that could include diseased and dying trees.

“The bats might be using those trees during the summer time for maternity roosts or any other kind of roosting habitat,” said Vincent Cavalieri, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It’s just something for the park to make sure any tree removal will be accompanied by some sort of checking for bats during summer months when the bats will be using the trees.”

Both the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, which is on a proposed list of endangered species, can be found in the area. Bats tend to hibernate through the winter in caves, but once temperatures rise they head out to forests to mate and roost.

Roosting bats could become disoriented or killed if their roosting trees are removed, Cavalieri said.

“It likely would just displace them and they’d have to go searching for a different habitat,” Cavalieri said. “It could be especially stressful for pregnant bats or bats that recently gave birth.”

Fish and Wildlife officials don’t want any trees with bats to be removed.

“If we want to cut trees during that period, we have to find ways to minimize and mitigate impacts to those species,” said Kevin Skerl, the Chief of Natural Resources at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Earlier this year, the National Park Service said it wanted to stay ahead of beech bark disease at Sleeping Bear Dunes and create a more aggressive tree take-down and restoration policy. The lakeshore’s ash trees also are being hit by the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle.

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Online:

http://www.nps.gov/slbe

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com