Going Batty: Bat study launched in Glacier National Park
July 15, 2011
Glacier National Park, in conjunction with Waterton
Lakes National Park in Canada, announces the start of a two year bat
inventory and monitoring project this month. The study will attempt to
determine which bat species reside in Waterton-Glacier International Peace
Park, where they occur, which habitats they select for roosting and
foraging, and whether bats hibernate in the parks.
A Canadian bat biologist will help Glacier National Park personnel to learn
bat inventory and monitoring techniques, including how to conduct daytime
building and bridge inspections, deployment of acoustic recording devices,
and mist-netting. Bats are extremely difficult to study because they are
nocturnal, their calls are inaudible to the human ear, and they roost
during the day. Signs will be posted to warn visitors hiking at dusk or
after dark when mist-netting efforts are occurring along park trails.
Current knowledge of bats in Waterton-Glacier is nearly nonexistent, as no
formal studies on these animals have ever been conducted in the parks.
Increasing understanding of bats is particularly important right now, as a
disease called white-nose syndrome is killing bats in eastern North
America. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is identifiable by a white fungus,
likely the cold-loving Geomyces destructans, found growing on the nose and
wing membranes of affected bats. Since its discovery in New York in 2006,
WNS has been responsible for the death of over one million bats and is now
found in 17 states and three Canadian provinces. Biologists are nearly
certain that it will eventually make its way West.
The information gained through this study will help shape management
decisions in the two parks, ultimately assisting in monitoring the spread
of WNS. For further information, please contact Mark Biel, Acting Chief of
Science and Resources Management at (406) 888-7821 or Lisa Bate, Lead
Biological Technician, at (406) 888-7833.