Happy Halloween! Not only is today one of the spookiest days of the year, but it also marks the final day of Bat Week 2019. Contrary to popular belief, bats aren’t as scary as you might think. In fact, bats play incredibly important roles in our ecosystems, and Bat Week raises awareness about the importance of their conservation.
One of the biggest threats to bats, White-Nose Syndrome, has killed millions of bats since 2006 and will eventually impact bat populations in Glacier. Your donations to the Glacier Conservancy are supporting a critical bat monitoring program that helps park wildlife biologists monitor bats in Glacier so they can assess the impacts of this disease once it arrives in the park.
Photo: Ann Froschauer, USFWS
Why Bats Matter
Lisa Bate, a wildlife biologist for Glacier National Park, reflects on the challenges Glacier’s nine species of bats face:
“Even though bats are small, it doesn’t mean they don’t face big challenges. Just like grizzlies and lynx, bats deal with issues that threaten their lives and long-term survival. The biggest threat is a disease called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). This disease has decimated bat populations through North America since it was first discovered in 2006, killing over six million bats. WNS is caused by a cold-loving fungus that affects bats while hibernating. As WNS continues to spread, biologists continue to inventory and monitor bats in Glacier. Once WNS arrives, these data will be the best tool to assess the impacts of the disease on Glacier’s bats.”
So, why do bats matter? Perhaps most importantly to us, bats help control mosquitoes and pests by eating insects. This saves us from some itchy bites, and helps farmers save billions of dollars annually. In many parts of the world, bats also play an important role as plant and crop pollinators. Check out this recent feature from Glacier National Park to learn more about the many benefits of bats.
Photo: Ann Froschauer, USFWS
“Going Batty” Field Trip Gives Citizen Scientists An Opportunity To Learn About Bats
In July, the park hosted its first annual “Going Batty” Field Trip, a late-night citizen science event all about bats. Participants watched and learned about bats and how researchers capture and identify bats in the park.
Lisa Bate led the field trip, demonstrating the equipment they use and how they handle bats captured in mist nets. According to those involved in the event, one of the biggest highlights from the night was the enthusiam of one of the participants, six-year-old Izzy Herreid-Terrill. Her love of bats radiated out to everyone throughout the night. When the park asked if she wanted to share anything about the event, Izzy said, “Only that more people should learn about the things in nature all around them, and then they wouldn’t be scared.”
“Bats are AMAZING creatures, and we are lucky to have support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy and its donors to fund Glacier’s bat program!”
— Lisa Bate, Wildlife Biologist for Glacier National Park
Photo: NPS, Courtesy of Scott Sprague
Learn More About Bat Research In Glacier
Check out the park’s video, “Glacier’s Bats: An Adventure In Bat Research,” to see how park wildlife biologists are monitoring changes to bat populations in Glacier.
Learn more about how your donations are making other scientific research programs possible in Glacier National Park!