Alabama Bat Working Group Bat Blitz
Conecuh National Forest
August 6-9, 2015
Conecuh National Forest hosted the 2015 Alabama Bat Working Group’s Bat Blitz from August 6 thru August 9, 2015. Mist netting, harp trapping, and hand capture of bats at 8 sites yielded 1061 individuals of 9 species (29 Big Brown bats, 17 Seminole bats, 35 Red bats, 76 Brazilian Free-tailed bats, 893 Southeastern bats, 2 Rafinesque’s big-eared bats, 4 Gray bats, 3 Evening bats, and 2 Tricolored bats).
Prior to the Bat Blitz, there was no information available regarding Conecuh National Forest bats, other than previous surveys of Yellow River Cave, so this was an extremely informative effort! Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are listed by the Forest Service as a Sensitive Species and Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, Southeastern bats, and Gray bats, are designated as Priority 1 species in the Alabama State Wildlife Action Plan. Tri-colored bats and Brazilian Free-tailed bats are Priority 2 species.
Harp trapping at two caves yielded 891 southeastern bats and 4 gray bats, many of which were banded. Twenty-five Big Brown bats and 75 Brazilian Free tailed bats were counted during a bridge survey. Four Big Brown bats and 1 Brazilian Free tailed bat were captured from the rafters of a structure at the Solon Dixon Center. The remaining bats were captured with mist nets at 5 different sites located in or near Conecuh National Forest. Habitats included recently thinned mature pine stands, dry tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwood forest, river channels, and ponds.
Twenty-nine participants representing the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Transportation, US Air Force, Alabama A&M, Auburn University, West Georgia University, Southern Company, World Discovery Safaris, and Reagan Smith Energy Solutions provided equipment and/or personnel for the event. The Solon Dixon Center housed, fed, and provided meeting and decontamination space, with Joel Martin, Solon Dixon Center Director, providing additional expertise and support. Southern Company provided White-nose Syndrome decontamination supplies. Dick Mills of World Discovery Safaris handled the Bat Blitz Registration.
The Alabama Bat Working Group wishes to thank all who provided support and Conecuh National Forest for hosting the event. We especially thank Conecuh National Forest biologist Steven Johnson for his hard work in pre-assessing sites and providing local knowledge which significantly helped to make our Bat Blitz so successful.
Article by Shannon Allen.
Photos by Andrew Edelman and Tori Stackhouse.