A Rota senator supports lifting the endangered and threatened status of the Marianas fruit bat, citing a recent survey that noted the increased number of the animal’s colonies throughout Rota.
In a letter to Dr. Joshua Guilbert, supervisor of the Division of Fish and Wildlife at the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, last Nov. 19, 2019, Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) noted that if the most recent survey proved the increase of population for the species, then she would fully support delisting the Marianas fruit bat as an endangered or threatened species.
“…The indigenous people have echoed their concerns for reconsideration with respect to cultural traditions for hunting and consumption purposes,” Santos said in her letter.
She pointed out that alternative considerations must be made available for the continued cultural practices to maintain the indigenous population’s unique identity.
The Marianas fruit bat is a kind of bat that has an average lifespan of 30 years in captivity. It is also known as flying foxes or fanihi in Chamorro, and are medium-sized bats with dark brown fur. Males are larger than females, and the abdomen and wings are dark brown to black with individual gray hairs mixed throughout.
“The indigenous people of the Marianas fully understand the need to protect and conserve our valuable resources for the future of our Commonwealth. We are in full support to delist the Mariana fruit bat as an endangered/threatened species and agree that the species be protected with consideration to balance the concerns raised for cultural practices with the Endangered Species Act,” she added.
According to the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, endangered means any species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range; threatened means any species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.