From the Pennsylvania Game Commission
-- Game Commission biologists are seeking assistance from residents in a regional monitoring effort to collect bat maternity colony data this summer.
Monitoring is especially important because of the mortalities in bat populations throughout the northeastern United States 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, according to 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.
Applications and information on how to participate are available online.
Forms on the website guide interested participants through the steps of timing, conducting a survey and submitting their findings to the Game Commission.
Pennsylvanias 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 the colonies is more important than ever.
Butchkoski said the fieldwork isnt difficult to do, and Pennsylvanians can play a huge role in helping the Game Commission gain a better understanding of what is happening to bats this summer.
A multi-state State Wildlife Grant 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 Commissions website at 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.