Residents encouraged to participate in Appalachian bat survey

Harrisburg  — Pennsylvania Game Commission
biologists are seeking assistance from residents in a regional
monitoring effort to collect bat maternity colony data this
summer.  This monitoring is especially important due to the
mortalities in bat populations throughout the northeastern United
States, including Pennsylvania, being caused by White-Nose Syndrome
(WNS).

“WNS primarily kills
during the winter, but the true impact of WNS on bat populations
cannot be determined using estimates from winter hibernacula
alone,” said Calvin Butchkoski, Game Commission wildlife
biologist.  “Pennsylvanians can help us more fully gauge the impact
of WNS on the landscape by hosting a bat count this summer. We are
especially urging people who have ever conducted a bat count for
the Game Commission in the past to redo a count this
year.”

To obtain applications
and information on how to participate, visit the Game Commission’s
website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on
“Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, scroll down
and choose “Pennsylvania Bats” in the Mammal section, and then
click on “Appalachian Bat Count” in the Reference listing. Forms on
the website guide interested participants through the steps of
timing, conducting a survey and submitting their findings to the
Game Commission.  Scout groups, 4-H clubs, local environmental
organizations, and individual homeowners can all participate in
this important effort.

“Pennsylvania’s two
most common bat species, the little brown bat and the big brown
bat, use buildings as their summer roosts,” Butchkoski said.
“Abandoned houses, barns, church steeples – and even
currently-occupied structures – can provide a summer home to female
bats and their young.

“Monitoring these
‘maternity colonies’ can give biologists a good idea of how bat
populations in an area are doing from year to year.  With the
occurrence of WNS in Pennsylvania this year, monitoring these
colonies is more important than ever.”

Butchkoski noted that
the fieldwork isn’t difficult to do, and Pennsylvanians can play a
huge role in helping the Game Commission get a better understanding
of what is happening to bats this summer.

“We’re looking for
some help, and we hope you’ll consider becoming part of the
Appalachian Bat Count monitoring team,” Butchkoski said. “It’s a
chance to make a difference for bats and to get involved in the
fight against WNS. Please consider lending a hand. Bats need you
more than ever.”

A multi-state State
Wildlife Grant was awarded and is being administered by the Game
Commission to investigate and respond to WNS. As part of this
project, the Appalachian Bat Count contributes to the nationwide
effort to collect data during summer months through maternity
colony monitoring, wing assessments and acoustic sampling. 

For more information
on WNS, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on
“Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, scroll down
and choose “White-Nose Syndrome” in the Wildlife Disease section.
To report observations of sick or multiple dead bats, go to the
agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on
“Report a Sick Bat” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand
column of the homepage.

 

 

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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