SHARECOMMENTMORE

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it has proposed granting Endangered Species Act protection to the northern long-eared bat, a species that has been devastated by a disease known as white-nose syndrome.

But the service said Thursday that it has determined that the eastern small-footed bat does not warrant protection.

White-nose has spread to 22 states and parts of Canada. The service says it has killed an estimated 5.5 million bats in the U.S. and Canada.

Federal officials say the population of the northern long-eared bat has dropped by 99 percent in the Northeast since symptoms of the disease were first detected in 2006.

The service will now take public comment on the proposal for 60 days and make a final decision in a year.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)