Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘White-nose Syndrome’

Halloween Without Bats

Monday, October 31st, 2016

By Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

This Halloween, while you are with friends and family celebrating a spooky evening of fun, I ask you to take a moment and think about one more thing – Halloween without bats. I want you to think about bats today not as the spooky creatures of the night that some people normally think of them as, but as incredible mammals that are invaluable to our ecosystem. In New Jersey, all of our 9 bat species are insectivores. They can eat thousands of insects in one night, protecting our crops and forests from insect destruction, and they pollinate many important foods that we love. A study published in Science magazine estimates that bats’ insect-eating services may be worth as much as $53 billion to US agriculture alone.

Photo courtesy of Blaine Rothauser.

Photo courtesy of Blaine Rothauser.

Despite the many environmental and economic benefits bats provide, bat populations around the world are still declining. Bats face many threats, including habitat loss and destruction, human persecution, wind energy development, and White-Nose Syndrome.

Little brown bats. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Little brown bats. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Devastatingly, we have lost over 6 million bats nationwide due to the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) – a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans or Pd. It attacks hibernating bats, disturbing them during hibernation when the bats’ immune response is low, and prevents them from conserving enough stored energy to survive until spring. WNS also causes dehydration and unrest as well as severe wing damage that can prevent bats from flying. Much is still unknown about White-nose syndrome, its spread, and its consequences. The federal government, states, several universities, and organizations like ours are working hard to track and understand this disease.

Big brown bat emerging from barn. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Hall.

Big brown bat emerging from barn. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Hall.

In New Jersey, about 50,000 bats were killed by WNS in the first year (2009) – and we now estimate over 60 tons of mosquitoes and other night-flying insects go undevoured each year from loss of bats. Though bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans they are still poorly understood and underappreciated, which is why today I ask you to think of them in a new light. Today, think about bats for all of the wonderful benefits they provide, think of them as amazing animals that work hard at night to protect our ecosystems, because we need to make a change.

To protect the bats we still have, it is important that people understand the stress these bats are under. It is important that we re-think how we view bats, remove the spooky stigmas that surround them and appreciate their importance to us. So today, think about bats think about how important they are, how badly we need to protect them and how scary a world without bats would be.

Big brown bat. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Big brown bat. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

 

Stephanie Feigin is a wildlife ecologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


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Photos from the Field: Red Bat, Brown Bat, Flying Squirrel!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Update on the Second Year of CWF’s Northern Long-eared Bat Study

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Female (right) and male (left) eastern red bats after being removed from the same net. Photo by MacKenzie Hall.

Female (right) and male (left) eastern red bats after being removed from the same net. Photo by MacKenzie Hall.

In early June, CWF, in partnership with NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, began the second year of the Northern long-eared bat mist netting and radio telemetry study. The team will be focusing efforts in Southern and Coastal New Jersey this year. The goal of the mist netting and radio telemetry project to learn more about the summer distribution and habitat selection of the federally listed Northern long-eared bat; an important project that can shed light on a species we know all too little about.

 

To date, the team has completed its second week of mist netting. So far, our team has caught 6 eastern red bats, 3 big brown bats and accidentally caught 2 flying squirrels in two different sites in southern New Jersey. Though a myotis bat has not been caught yet, the team did get acoustic detection of a tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) foraging near the net site in Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson, New Jersey!

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Flying squirrel being removed from a mist net. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Stay tuned for more updates as the season progresses!

 

Learn more:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Gone Batty: The Creature Show Halloween Special

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Conserve Wildlife Foundation Biologist and 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner Featured in Halloween Special of The Creature Show

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

TheCreatureShow

 

Just in time for Halloween, learn more about New Jersey’s bat population in the latest episode of The Creature Show! In this episode, join Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s wildlife ecologist Stephanie Feigin and 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner MacKenzie Hall on their journey to track the federally listed Northern long-eared bat, hear from a young bat advocate and learn more about current threats to bat populations.

 

The Creature Show Halloween Special offers a glimpse into the work by New Jersey’s bat biologists to protect the remaining population of these misunderstood creatures of the night. Learn how to radio track a bat, see the joy in our biologists’ faces when all of their effort in the field pays off, and listen as common myths about bats are de-bunked.

 

The episode is running through Halloween in the small theater downstairs at Duke Farms‘ Orientation Center (Hillsborough, New Jersey) on a continuous loop in their “bat cave.”

 

The Creature Show is a documentary webseries dedicated to conservation storytelling. Their stage: the wilds of New Jersey, within the nation’s most crowded state. Here they find represented all the villains of global extinction, including habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species and wildlife disease. They also find wildlife biologists and regular citizens who have devoted themselves to protecting the region’s biodiversity, no matter what the challenges may be.

 

Learn more:

 

 

Creature Show Halloween Special from The Creature Show on Vimeo.

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Tracking a Federally Listed Bat Species across New Jersey

Friday, August 14th, 2015
An Update on CWF’s Northern long-eared Bat Statewide Mist Netting Surveys

by Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

Female Northern long eared bat (c) Ethan Gilardi

Female Northern long eared bat (c) Ethan Gilardi

White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease, has devastated bat populations across the country. Over six million bats have been killed by the disease, which has spread to over 25 states and five Canadian provinces. The Northern long-eared bat is one of the species most affected by WNS, suffering from an overwhelming 99% reduction in numbers in WNS-affected areas.

Stephanie Feigin checks wing of a little brown bat for signs of white nose syndrome scarring. (c) Ethan Gilardi

Stephanie Feigin checks wing of a Northern long-eared bat for signs of white nose syndrome scarring. (c) Ethan Gilardi

As a result, in April 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Northern long-eared bat as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

 

This summer, CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teamed up with NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and Rutgers University to conduct a statewide mist netting and radio telemetry project to learn more about the summer distribution and habitat selection of Northern long-eared bats; an important project that can shed light on a species we know all too little about.

 

Mist-netting surveys began the week of June 1 and continued through the beginning of August. Survey sites included five state parks and Wildlife Management Areas across the state:

  • Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area
  • Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area
  • Washington Crossing State Park/Alexauken Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Brendan Byrne State Forest
  • Wharton State Forest

 

The team, directed by Feigin, conducted a total of 19 netting nights and 10 tracking days, leading to a total of 63 bats caught, four of which were Northern long-eared bats. All four of the Northern long-eared bats received radio transmitters and were tracked everyday until the transmitter fell off.

Female Northern long-eared bat with transmitter attached to her back. (c) Stephanie Feigin

Female Northern long-eared bat with transmitter attached to her back. (c) Stephanie Feigin

After a long night of netting (5pm-2am) the team would set out the next day to track the bat caught the night before. This, however, was not an easy task. The maximum distance the antenna can receive a signal from the transmitter is ¾ of a mile (in perfect conditions). Though tough, the team was able to track the bats to five different roost sites including under the cedar siding of two homes, a narrow four foot stump, a large standing dead pitch pine, and another pitch pine in a recently burned forested area.

 

The mist netting and tracking study allowed us to collect important data on Northern long-eared bat populations throughout New Jersey. The data collected on habitat requirements and roost locations will help guide our conservation decisions. Ultimately, the study will allow us to better protect the remaining population of Northern-long eared bats in the Garden State.

Amanda Bevan, Rutgers University graduate student, scans area with ATS scanning receiver and Yagi 3-element antenna for a signal from the transmitter (c) Stephanie Feigin

Amanda Bevan, Rutgers University graduate student, scans area with ATS scanning receiver and Yagi 3-element antenna for a signal from the transmitter (c) Stephanie Feigin

This work was made possible with the support from the Franklin Parker Conservation Grants, EarthColor, and the Conserve Wildlife Matching Grant Program. Thank you to our supporters!

Learn more:

 

Stephanie Feigin is a Wildlife Ecologist for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation Celebrates Bat Appreciation Day!

Friday, April 17th, 2015
Happy Bat Appreciation Day!

By: Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

Today, Friday, April 17 is Bat Appreciation Day 2015. Join Conserve Wildlife Foundation in celebrating the beloved bats of New Jersey today and every day.

 

Bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans. They provide important economic and ecological benefits from eating the bothersome pests like mosquitoes, to devouring the insects that also destroy our agricultural and forest land.

 

Bats save us millions of dollars in damage each year and play essential roles in keeping populations of night-flying insects in check. Just one bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a short period of time, and large colonies catch tons of insects nightly.

 

Unfortunately, these amazing animals continue to face many threats including habitat loss and the devastating disease, White-nose Syndrome. White-nose syndrome, alone, can kill 90-100% of bats in affected caves.

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation works hard to protect New Jersey’s bats through on-going research, education and outreach. We provide homes for evicted bats with our Bats in Buildings project as well as collect and record valuable data about the state’s bat population with our Summer Bat Count project, and our acoustic bat surveys.

 

New in 2015, Conserve Wildlife Foundation will conduct surveys to learn more about the summer distribution and habitat of Northern long-Eared Bats, a species listed under the Endangered Species Act this month.

 

Also this month, the Bat Cam bats have returned for the spring and summer! We are excited to follow this colony throughout the season and highlight special moments of their lives.

 

Today, on Bat Appreciation Day, consider supporting Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Bat Project. Help us help New Jersey’s bats not only survive, but thrive in the Garden State.

Stephanie Feigin is the Wildlife Ecologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

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