Have You Seen Any Bats Lately?
In our travels throughout the state, many people have told us they have noticed fewer bats are flying at night during the summer. It is no coincidence that Game Commission surveys report significant declines for many of our state’s hibernating species of bats. These declines result specifically from white-nose syndrome, a disease that infects bats as they hibernate.
One new site we surveyed recently had an extensive network of interconnecting passages, with a multitude of locations where bats could spend the winter. However, from the thousands of bats that existed prior to this disease, we only saw a few survivors. So few, in fact, you could count them on one or both hands at most sites. Those left seem to prefer only the coldest areas nearest to the entrance. We saw this repeating itself as we surveyed more and more sites. We are starting to think that this is an adaptation by bats to deal with and improve their survival from the annual infections imparted by this new disease.
With so few bats remaining, we are always on the lookout for leads to where bats are spending the winter. If you have a bat hibernaculum in your neighborhood, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Title it “Bat Hibernaculum” and ask that it be directed to me.
– Mike Scafini, Endangered and Threatened Mammals Biologist, Pennsylvania Game Commission
Appalachian Bat Count
Please join us in monitoring the health of Pennsylvania’s summer bat colonies through the Appalachian Bat Count. Colonies can be monitored by conducting a “bat count” at a summer colony in your area.We ask that you count bats as they exit their summer roost at dusk in June, then again later in the summer to see how the colony has grown as pups begin flying.