ST. PAUL (AP) - A potentially endangered species of bat could become a major obstacle to the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to declare the northern long-eared bat an endangered species because the spread of the white-nosed syndrome disease has reduced its population.

In that case, Enbridge could be forced to postpone its pipeline project or chose a different route. The current proposal would carry crude from the North Dakota oilfields to Superior, Wisconsin and would run through the bats' habitat.

Enbridge has already taken steps to avoid disrupting that habitat. Enbridge launched a $5 million research project to locate the trees where the bats roost during the summer. After analyzing the data, the company modified the route of the pipeline in Aitkin and Carlton counties.