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Archive for the ‘Bats’ Category

Bats, Vampires, and Halloween: Why the Season Brings Bats to Mind

Monday, November 1st, 2021

by Leah Wells, Wildlife Biologist

The Big Brown Bat is one of New Jersey’s most common bat species!

When you think about Halloween, the first things that may come to mind are probably trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, black cats, and bats.

But where did the association between bats and Halloween come from?

There are around 1,400 species of bats worldwide that feed mainly on insects, fruits, rodents, and even frogs. However, 3 species of bats (the vampire bats) have a specialized diet of blood. When the discovery of these bats feeding on blood from cattle in Latin America, the name “vampire” was given to them. Then in 1897 when Bram Stoker’s Dracula hit mainstream media, the portrayal of vampires shapeshifting into bats helped solidify the idea that these creatures of the night were something to be afraid of. Vampire bats are where the group as a whole got their connection to Halloween. 

While many people still have a fear of bats, scientists and allies alike have been working to rebuild their reputation. Bat Week, which starts the week of Halloween, is an annual worldwide celebration of the role of bats in nature. This week raises awareness for bat conservation by educating the public about bats through social media and events, their role in nature, the importance they bring to agriculture, and threats they face. 

At the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, our biologists work hard throughout the year to protect our resident bat species. Whether our team is out conducting field research for our bat projects, educating the public through in-person and virtual talks, or engaging with homeowners and businesses who want to safely manage bats on their property. Our team is dedicated and committed to conserving our vulnerable bat friends. 

Happy Bat Week and Happy Halloween!

CWF In The News: Bats and summer nights – perfect together!

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

by, Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus). Photo by Ethan Gilardi.

I recently had the chance to speak with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation about CWF’s work with bats.

We discussed how bat populations are recovering from White-Nose Syndrome, the difficulties of studying such an elusive species, the projects currently being undertaken by CWF to help our bats, and what makes our bats a special and irreplaceable part of New Jersey’s wildlife community.

We’d like to thank Sandy Perry for conducting this wonderful interview and Michele S. Byers for including us as a part of New Jersey Conservation Foundations’ The State We’re In.

Check out the excerpt below and continue reading this and many other great articles on

Sit outside on a summer evening around sunset and look up. If you’re in an open area with nearby woods, you may be treated to a dazzling aerial display of bats hunting for flying insects.

“They’re endlessly fascinating,” said Ethan Gilardi, a bat biologist with the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “They’re fun fliers, with all their diving and weaving and hairpin turns.”

Besides being interesting to watch, bats provide priceless insect control services in a state that jokingly refers to the mosquito as its state bird. “A single little brown bat can eat 3,000 insects a night,” noted Ethan. “They eat every kind of insect pest you can think of.”

But many of New Jersey’s bats are struggling to survive. Fifteen years ago, a fungus attacked hibernating bats, leading to a disease known as white-nose syndrome. The disease disrupts hibernation, causing bats to use up their vital energy needed to survive the winter. White-nose wiped out most of the bats in the Myotis genus: little brown bats – once our most widespread species – and northern long-eared bats.

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Northern Long-Eared Bats found in the Pinelands

Sunday, August 8th, 2021

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

A Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) rests in hand before being released.

During the past two months, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey biologists have spent many late nights surveying for bats in the Pinelands! A typical survey night starts just before sundown with setting up expansive nets across corridors in the woods. In the dark, these fine threaded nets are nearly invisible to bats and the occasional flying squirrel or Whippoorwill. As the sun sets, the bats emerge, rushing through the sky to their foraging grounds. Every ten minutes, from sunset till 2am, the nets are checked and any captured bats are safely extracted from the nets to then be identified, weighed, and measured.

Over the course of 10 survey nights, 49 bats were captured in the nets! The Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) was the most common bat identified with a total of 28 individuals. The Big Brown Bat is the most common species of insectivorous bat in North America, relatively large with long, silky fur, dark skin, and a wide nose. The second most common bat captured was the Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis). Like the Big Brown Bat, the Eastern Red Bat is widespread across eastern North America. It’s distinguished by the orange fur and a furred tail membrane. While surveying in the Pinelands, wildlife biologists captured 17 Eastern Red Bats!

Our goal for this surveys was not to capture a lot of bats, but to capture rare bats in the Myotis genus. On the last few survey nights, we finally achieved our goal, capturing two Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) and two Northern Long-Eared Bats (Myotis septentrionalis). The Little Brown Bat is a tiny bat weighing less than 10 grams that has glossy brown fur and long hairs on its toes. Likewise, the Northern long-eared bats are very tiny, with brown fur, and large ears.

The Little Brown Bat is a Species of Concern and the Northern Long-Eared Bat is a Federally Threatened species due to their susceptibility to White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS is a fungal disease that has heavily impacted bats of the Myotis family. White nose fungus grows in cold, moist environments like caves and mines – perfect habitat for many bats. This devastating disease has killed more than 6 million bats nationwide since it was first discovered in 2006.

When a Myotis bat, like the Northern Long-Eared or Little Brown, is captured, things get exciting! To learn more about where these bats roost during the day, we attach a temporary radio transmitter, smaller than the size of a fingernail, to the bat’s back and then spend the next several days tracking the radio signal in a process called radio telemetry. The transmitter on the bat’s back sends out a signal that sounds like a consistent “beep” and then the biologist holds an antenna and a receiver that is able to receive the signal. The closer you get to the bat, the louder and clearer the signal or “beeps” are! The bats are tracked through this process of radio telemetry until the roost is found.

The tagged Northern Long-Eared Bat was able to be tracked to a roost tree in a nearby swamp, roughly a mile away from the capture site. There is still lots to learn about this dwindling species and identifying roost trees is an important way to help protect this species habitat and to get a better understanding of the existing population. We also fitted one of the Little Brown Bats with a radio transmitter to track it to the roost. The roost for this bat was located approximately 2 miles away from the capture site in a residential building! Roosting in buildings is common for Little Brown Bats as it mimics the microenvironment of a cave.

Although previous years surveys resulted in higher overall numbers of bats, this was the first year for the Northern Long-Eared Bat and Little Brown Bat to be captured at this site in the Pinelands.  Acoustic surveys from 2017 indicated these species were present but confirming these threatened bats are still active in the area several years later is an exciting feat!

This project was done in partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey Field Office.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

by David Wheeler, Executive Director

COVID-19 has changed our lives in virtually every possible way over the last few months. Our relationship to wildlife is no different. This three-part series explores the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown on wildlife in New Jersey and across the world. Read Part 1 and Part 2 and check out our podcast on COVID-19 and wildlife.

Part 3 The Threat of COVID-19

No discussion of COVID-19’s impact on wildlife would be complete with its fated beginning and its long-term threats posed by the global economic shutdown. As a zoonotic disease, COVID-19 likely was triggered by a virus in bats that got into a pangolin in a wet market that was then consumed by people, chance encounters made much more likely by a number of destructive human activities.

Clearing primal forests bring people into contact with remote wildlife for the first time, while also changing wildlife behaviors to increase the likelihood of their interaction with humans. Live animal markets offer ideal opportunities for viruses like COVID-19 to emerge. Illegal trafficking incentivizes further habitat clearing and poaching. Trading in exotic wildlife creates a host of problems both to the species themselves and to their ecosystems. (Though underexplored in the popular Tiger King series, the impacts of the exotic wildlife trade could make a fascinating series in its own right).


Summer Series: Join Us for Virtual Wildlife Events

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Wildlife takes center stage this summer in a series of virtual presentations.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation and Mercer County Park Commission will present four one-hour webinars this summer, focusing on wildlife that affects our lives, even in an urbanized environment.