Over 6 million bats have died from white-nose syndrome across the Unites States – a disease caused by a fungus – since it was first discovered in a cave in New York in 2006. In 2011, due to concerns about bats and threats to their populations from white-nose syndrome and wind energy development, the Waterton-Glacier Peace Park Bat Inventory and Monitoring Program began.
The disease infects hibernating bats and has spread to 30 states and five provinces, and is projected to arrive in Glacier by 2026. Since the Glacier monitoring inception, scientists have confirmed bat use in caves, bat presence in winter, identified hundreds of bat roosts in buildings, and added three species to Glacier National Park’s mammals list. This project will allow scientists to expand inventory surveys, to conduct bat emergence counts on select bat maternity roosts, and collect acoustic data to monitor and prepare for white-nose syndrome.
Funding will help to expand mist-netting efforts into new habitats by using stock support to access backcountry and alpine areas and deploy state-of-the art bat acoustic detectors to survey for bats in the backcountry and alpine areas, and near caves, mines and talus slopes, where mist-netting is not possible. It is critical to locate and monitor the largest bat roosts in the park and expand inventory efforts further into the backcountry and alpine habitats to complete and inventory of Glacier’s bat species to understand how the population changes after the disease arrives in the park.