Conserve Wildlife Blog

Summer Mist Netting Surveys for Northern long-eared bat Come Up Short Handed

August 3rd, 2022

by Meaghan Lyon

Biologists Leah Wells and Meaghan Lyon banding a Big Brown Bat

Since 2018, CWF has partnered with the USFWS New Jersey Field Office in completing summer mist netting surveys for bats in the Pinelands. The goal of these surveys is to capture the federally threatened Northern long-eared bat and track these bats to maternity roosts.

The Northern long-eared bat population has been on a steep decline, by nearly 97-100% across the species range, causing USFWS to propose uplisting this bat species to endangered. This decline is primarily due to the spread of white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has spread rapidly among bats since its first observed case in New York in 2006. Other threats that have been observed to Northern long-eared bats include wind energy related mortality, summer habitat loss, winter habitat loss or disturbance, and climate change.

Due to the spread of white nose syndrome and vast declines in most bat species in the northeast, other bats in the same genus, like the Little brown bat, are also of interest during mist netting surveys.

Last year resulted in an outstanding survey season with four target species captured: two Northern long-eared bats and two Little brown bats. Two of the four bats were able to be tagged and tracked to their roost location. These surveys help state and federal agencies protect summer bat habitat where bats year after year raise their young and forage among the forest and wetland.

Unfortunately, biologists were not as lucky this year and did not capture any of the target species. Many of the same travel corridors, among several new habitats, were surveyed. While many of these bat species show instances of site fidelity, there is no guarantee that our target species population will persist in the area. 

Although there were no target species captured in 2022, summer mist netting surveys reveal how other bats, like the Big brown bat and Eastern red bat, use the habitat. Check back soon for more information on common bat captures and other exciting critters that get stuck in our nets!

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