Longer days, warmer weather and blooming gardens are sure signs of the coming summer season. Another sign of summer, that of bats swooping to catch insects through the dusk sky, may not come as readily this year. The recent introduction of “White Nose Syndrome,” a cold-tolerant fungus that has wiped out entire bat hibernating colonies, has had a dramatic impact on the bat
population in the Northeast – to date, more than 5 million bats have died because of WNS.
Maine Audubon needs the help of residents to identify the locations of maternal bat colonies throughout the state (where female bats group together to raise their young). Information from citizen scientists will help establish a baseline for breeding bats.
“White Nose Syndrome is having a quick and pervasive impact on little and big brown bats,” noted Susan Gallo, Maine Audubon wildlife biologist in a press release. “Of the 45 historic colonies identified by citizen scientists last year, only 12 had bats actually roosting – and none of them raised any pups.”
This is the second year of a two-year study conducted in partnership with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, with support provided by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Foundation. Little and big brown bat colonies are usually found in attics, barns, church eaves, old theaters, abandoned buildings, homes, garages and other structures. Peak bat activity takes place now through the end of July.
Maine Audubon wants to know the location of all bat colonies and interested volunteers can follow an established protocol for estimating colony size by counting the number of bats emerging at dusk.
“Because of the devastation of WNS on bat colonies, we are even looking for historical information – if you know of a bat colony that has not seen activity this year, we still want to hear about it,” noted Gallo.
Bat colony observations can be submitted at www.maineaudubon.org/bats. For questions or further information about the Bat Conservation Project, email Susan Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-2330, Ext. 216.