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Including timber harvest and mountain

The Black Hills timber industry could suffer irreparable damage if the northern long-eared bat is added to the list of endangered species, according to a nonprofit trade group.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add the bat to the endangered species list because of a fungus called white-nose syndrome that is killing bats in the eastern U.S.

The bat thrives in the Black Hills region of western South Dakota. A listing would restrict forest management, including timber harvest and mountain pine beetle management, said Ben Wudtke, forest programs manager for the Black Hills Forest Resource Association.

A possible restriction would be no harvesting of trees over 3 inches in diameter from April through October, when the bats are leaving the caves and mines in which they hibernate for the winter and moving to nests in trees.

"That's the prime time for doing forest management activities that improve the health of these forests," Wudtke told the Rapid City Journal.

U.S. Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, both South Dakota Republicans, recently asked federal wildlife leaders to withdraw the proposed listing, saying it could endanger more than 1,500 jobs in the Black Hills.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a decision next spring.

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