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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

October 13, 2010

6500 (MT923) P
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2011-004
Expires: 9/30/2012
To:                   Leadership Advisory Team
Attention:  Wildlife Management Biologists, Outdoor Recreation Planners, and Abandoned Mine Lands Specialists
From:               Acting State Director
Subject:           Implementation of the Washington Office (WO) Instruction Memorandum (IM) Number 2010-181 White-nosed Syndrome (WNS)                      DD: 10/29/10
Program Area: Bat management in relation to Wildlife, Threatened and Endangered Species, Recreation, and Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) programs.
Purpose: This IM develops a coordinated bat management policy related to the anticipated occurrence of WNS associated with caves and abandoned mine lands features.
Policy/Action: The WO IM 2010-181 directs each Bureau of Land Management (BLM) organization to identify the following: 
1.      Identify caves and abandoned mine features (hereinafter referred to as “sites”; refer to the definitions of caves and abandoned mine features found in Attachment 2 of the WO IM) with important bat resources (refer to all three attachments in the WO IM for more detail).
2.      Consider restricting access to caves and abandoned mines (used by bats) on the BLM-administered lands in your state. It is suggested that the BLM State Directors use a targeted approach to closure that prioritizes sites with important bat resources.
3.      Make available to users the current version of the BLM containment and decontamination procedures (refer to Attachments 1 and 2 of the WO IM).
4.      Participate in interagency groups to develop state WNS response plans that consider the Interagency National Response Plan (INRP), as appropriate. 
After receiving submissions from the field offices, the state office (SO) will forward the Bat Inventory Worksheet to the WO.  In addition, the SO will prepare a WNS informational brochure and post this on the BLM Montana/Dakotas (MT/DAKs) external website.
Each FO within the BLM MT/DAKs will complete the spreadsheet attached to the WO IM No. 2010-181. Information specific to AML sites will be completed at the MSO, with input from the affected FOs, as requested.
Decisions related to the need for conducting bat surveys, administratively or physically closing sites, and disease testing are to be made by the field managers in accordance with the WO IM No. 2010-181.  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance may be required in the event access to sites is restricted.  If needed, bat inventories would be conducted in fiscal year (FY) 2011.
As requested, each BLM state organization is to designate a WNS point of contact.  The role of this contact would be to work closely with the BLM WO and state and federal agencies in the MT/DAKs.  In the interim, the Acting BLM MT/DAKs Wildlife Program Lead will assume this role. 
Timeframe: Field offices will complete the spreadsheet attached to the WO IM No. 2010-181 by October 29, 2010. 
Budget Impact: Impact to the field offices could occur if bat surveys are conducted, site restrictions (gates) are installed, and/or if disease testing is implemented.
Background: The WNS is a condition associated with massive mortalities of cave and mine hibernating bats and has spread at an alarming rate across the eastern United States. The fungus (Geomyces destructans) has not been reported in Montana or the Dakotas.  Mortalities at affected hibernacula in the Northeast have ranged from 80-100 percent of their hibernating bats. The BLM MT/DAKs administers a limited number of caves and abandoned mines, some of which are used by bats for hibernation or roosting.
While the disease is not known to be harmful to people, evidence suggests the dispersal of the Geomyces destructans fungus, considered the primary causal agent for WNS, can be transmitted via bats or people. Although bat-to-bat transfer of the fungus occurs, people may also inadvertently transfer the fungus from an affected site to an unaffected site, via spores on their clothing or gear, where it can then affect bats using the site.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination:  The MT/DAKs adoption and implementation strategy was coordinated with the Branch of Land Resources (MT924) and the Branch of Planning and Biological Resources (MT923). 
Contact: If you have questions, please contact Dale Tribby, Acting Wildlife Program Lead (406) 896‑5032, Christina Miller, Outdoor Recreation Planner, at (406) 896‑5038, Peter Bierbach, Abandoned Mine Lands Program Lead at (406) 896‑5033.
Signed by:                                                                               Authenticated by:
Theresa M. Hanley                                                                  Janie Fox
Acting State Director                                                              Staff Assistant (MT920)
1 Attachment
    1-WO IM No. 2010-181 (12 pp in its entirety)

Last updated: 06-28-2012