COLUMBIA, S.C.–Are you curious about bats? Do you have a bat box or know of a bat roost you’re interested in monitoring? Then become a part of SC Bat Watch! This citizen science project counts emerging bats from maternity roosts twice each summer. Anyone is welcome to participate and no experience is necessary.
Bats are a challenging group to study, which has led to a lack of basic information about many bat species. In addition, there has been great concern for bats due to White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease causing devastating declines in bat populations. Eleven of the 14 bat species in South Carolina are considered species of greatest conservation need, and 7 of these roost in colonies. Three SC species regularly utilize bat boxes, and several others are known to use man-made structures for their maternity colonies. By helping monitor roosting bats, you will be collecting valuable information on bat species and contributing data that will help biologists better understand bat populations in our state.
The Bat Watch project offers 2 levels of involvement:
- Level 1: Bat Tracker – 2 counts; one count between May 15 – June 15 and a second count between
July 1 – 31.
- Level 2: Bat Enthusiast – A minimum of 4 counts: 2 counts between May 15 – June 15 and 2 counts between July 1 – 31. Counts can be conducted as often as every 2 weeks.
Arrive at the roost a half hour before sunset and record the number of bats as they emerge. For SC Bat Watch instructions, data sheets, and bat ID guide please see: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/bats/batwatch.html
There will be a Bat Watch Training on Sat, Apr 28th at 7:45 pm at Sunrift Adventures, 1 Center Street, Travelers Rest, SC. Attendance is not necessary to be a part of SC Bat Watch, but join us to learn more about the program and how best to count emerging bats!
If you know of an existing bat colony, but can’t commit to emergence counts, you can still report information about the colony online at: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/bats/batbox.html. Note: This form is for informational purposes only, not for emergency or nuisance reporting.
Don’t know of an existing bat colony?
Consider putting up a bat box to provide a home for bats in your neighborhood. Bat Conservation International (BCI) offers plans for building your own bat box, links to businesses that offer bat boxes that have met the standards of BCI’s Bat Approved Certification Program, as well as helpful tips for where to place your bat box: http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses. Also, consider checking with your local state park – they may already have a bat box and might be willing to let you conduct an emergence count.
Jennifer Kindel is a SCDNR wildlife biologist and white-nose syndrome specialist. Becky Brown is a SCDNR bat technician also specializing in WNS.