In August, a report from Arrowwood Environmental was submitted to the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The report concludes that the roadside spraying of pesticides by the BLSG Insect Control District is likely to harm endangered or threatened species of bat. Six weeks later the Commissioner of VT F&W responded that he and his staff had read the report but decided that no action on their part was needed to protect listed species of bat. We learned that the Vermont Endangered Species Committee, which is charged with advising the VT F&W Commissioner on all matters concerning Vermont’s endangered and threatened species, had not seen the report. So we sent it directly to that committee and last week the report’s author presented a summary of his conclusions at a meeting of the committee.
Before the report was first submitted to VT F&W, it was shared with several regional, national, and international conservation organizations. Every one of those organizations agreed with the conclusions of the report, and seven of them signed the report’s cover letter or wrote their own letter of support. Those organizations are:
- National Wildlife Federation
- Vermont Natural Resources Council
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Biodiversity Research Institute
- Bat Conservation International
- Toxics Action Center
- Colrain Center for Conservation and Wildlife
In addition, a letter of support for the report’s conclusions was submitted by Zygmunt Plater, a Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. Professor Plater is the foremost scholar on endangered species law in the US, having successfully argued the famous “snail darter” case in front of the US Supreme Court in the 1970s (see his 2014 TED talk). Professor Plater’s letter states that:
As an environmental protection teacher, scholar, and practitioner over five decades, it is clear to me that on the science and the law, the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen-Pittsford Insect Control District’s pesticide application program meets the low threshold for a take, thus requiring a permit whereby thoughtful consideration of species protective alternative programmatic details can be worked out.
Arrowwood Environmental’s report speaks for itself, but the strong and unanimous support among conservation groups for the report’s conclusions highlights the importance of taking decisive action on this issue. We hope that as a first step, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that BLSG apply for an incidental take permit so that by next summer it will not be unlawfully taking endangered species of bat.