ABWG Bat Blitz at Conecuh National Forest

September 1, 2015

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.

Raf3Group photoArticle by Shannon Allen.

Photos by Andrew Edelman and Tori Stackhouse.

Successful Bat Blitz Held at Redstone Arsenal

August 27, 2014

Alabama Bat Working Group Bat Blitz
Redstone Arsenal, AL
August 12-14, 2014.

The following paragraph, with minor edits, was provided by Shannon Allen, Ecologist and Certified Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Army Garrison – Redstone

US Army Garrison – Redstone Arsenal hosted an Alabama Bat Working Group Bat Blitz August 12-14, 2014. Mist netting at 5 sites yielded 66 individuals from 6 species (31 Big Brown bats, 22 Red bats, 9 Gray bats, 2 Little Brown bats, 1 Evening bat, and 1 Tricolor bat). A 28 mile acoustic monitoring route was established and was run both nights during the blitz. Passive acoustic monitors were installed at 3 of the 5 mist-net sites and preliminary results indicate the presence of additional species: Silver-haired bat, Eastern small-footed bat, and Indiana bat. In addition to trapping in forested and wetland habitats, the group explored bats’ use of  culverts and abandoned buildings. Day trips included visits to some of Redstone’s sensitive species; the Tuscumbia Darter (Etheostoma tuscumbia) and the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus). Tom Counts of Conservation Services Of Alabama, LLC donated funding to the Working Group for food and drinks, Clayton Hendrix with Teledyne Brown Engineering provided delicious homemade desserts, the US Army Garrison– Redstone Arsenal Environmental Management Division provided White-nose Syndrome decontamination supplies, and US Army Garrison -Redstone Arsenal Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation provided housing for some participants. Tennessee Valley Authority, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Labor, Geological Survey of Alabama, Georgia Department of Transportation, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Mulkey Engineers & Consultants, and HNTB, Alabama A&M, Auburn University, and Athens State University provided equipment and/or personnel for the event.

Specific training at the blitz included establishing and running stationary bat acoustic monitoring stations, mobile acoustic monitoring, and decontamination procedures for White-nose Syndrome (WNS). In addition, those with less experience learned how to set up mist nets to capture bats and bat identification. Those lucky enough to be with an experienced Tennessee Valley Authority employee, Holly LeGrand, also experienced how to take a wing punch from bats. The samples will be forwarded to a researcher in New York studying the differences in immunological responses to WNS in bats highly susceptible to this fungal disease and those that are not impacted as greatly.

The Alabama Bat Working Group wishes to thank all who provided support and Redstone Arsenal for hosting the event. We would like to especially thank Shannon Allen for all of her hard work in setting it up and making it so successful.

White-Nose Syndrome Discovered in Bats in Bankhead National Forest

April 8, 2014

Double Springs, Alabama  (March 27, 2014)  — The U.S. Forest Service has discovered White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in two bats collected recently in the Bankhead National Forest.  The bats, which tested positive for WNS, were found in Armstrong and Backwards-Confusion Caves on the Bankhead National Forest. The specimens represent the first confirmed cases of WNS for Lawrence County, Alabama.

White-Nose Syndrome is a disease characterized by fungal growth around the muzzle and wings of hibernating bats. First discovered in 2006, the disease spread rapidly from its origin in New York and is now as far south as Alabama and Georgia. WNS was confirmed in Alabama in 2012 with cases in Jackson County. The recent confirmed case in Lawrence County was the first discovery on national forests in Alabama.

WNS has caused the death of almost six million bats that are an important part of forest ecosystems, helping to control forest and agricultural insect pests.

According to Eric Schmeckpeper, acting district ranger of the Bankhead National Forest, the Forest Service issued a closure order for caves in all southern region national forests in May 2009 to proactively slow the spread of the fungus. The closure order remains active and includes caves in the Bankhead National Forest.

“There is no known risk to humans from White-Nose Syndrome,” said Allison Cochran,  a wildlife biologist for the Bankhead National Forest.  “It is possible that people can spread the disease by inadvertently transporting fungal spores on clothing, footwear and gear that has been used in caves that have been infected,” added Cochran. Decontamination of clothing, footwear and gear can reduce accidental transmission of fungal spores.

The Forest Service is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation, Alabama A&M University, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and others to reduce the spread of WNS. In the event that a member of the public spots an infected bat, they should notify the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources at 256-353-2634 with information about the location. Bats that may be encountered on the ground should remain undisturbed.

Visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org to learn more about this wildlife epidemic.

Bat Conservation Resources:


Bats showing fungus on ears and wings, symptoms of White-Nose Syndrome, located in the Bankhead National Forest.

Tammy Freeman Truett

Public Affairs Staff Officer

U.S. Forest Service

2946 Chestnut Street

Montgomery, AL 36107

334-241-8144 (direct)

334-832-4470 (office)

Email: ttruett@fs.fed.us

Website: www.fs.usda.gov/alabama

Follow Us on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/NFinAlabama


Bat Blitz to be Held in Early October

September 14, 2013
Holly LeGrand of TVA removes a red bat from a mist net (USFWS - Bill Gates)

Biologist Holly LeGrand of the Tennessee Valley Authority removes a red bat from a mist net (USFWS – William R. Gates)

The Alabama Bat Working Group will be conducting it’s Bat Blitz from 2:00 p.m. Monday, October 7, 2013 until the morning of Friday, October 11, 2013. The Nature Conservancy’s Headquarters (House) at 1481 Highway 72 in Gurley, Alabama will serve as the location to coordinate bat trapping and the place where the Fall meeting of the group will be held.

The bat blitz is an organized effort to conduct many surveys for bats in a relatively short period of time in a particular area to determine what species are present and their relative abundance. Trapping will be held each night in the Jackson County and east Madison County areas.

All are welcome and the event is free. This is an opportunity to learn how bats are studied in the wild just before the Halloween Season. You may attend any or all of the four nights. Meet at the Headquarters at 2:00 p.m. Monday or 10:00 a.m. any of the other days through Thursday. The Fall meeting will be held on Wednesday beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Please complete the contact form below if you wish to attend (your information will remain private). We will provide a signup sheet and other information.

Help Gather Information – Bat Use of Pools

May 20, 2013

The Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation is asking for your help in understanding how bats use swimming pools across North America. Anecdotal reports suggest bats use swimming pools for drinking, perhaps especially in areas where natural water sources are scarce. If you own, use, or manage a pool on a regular basis, you could provide valuable information regarding bats’ use of swimming pools. We have developed an online survey, which is voluntary and meant to be taken only once per person, to gather data about this subject. Whether you observe bats around your pool or not, your responses are still valuable to us. This survey is open until 15 September 2013. You can find the survey, as well an informed consent statement, at this website:


Please feel free to distribute this message and web address to listservs or other contacts in North America. We are interested in gathering data from a diverse array of pool users.

Many thanks,

Zachary Nickerson
Joy O’Keefe
Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation
Indiana State University

Spring Meeting of the ABWG

April 23, 2013
A hoary bat captured during the Alabama Bat Working Group's Mini-bat Blitz in 2010.

A hoary bat captured during the Alabama Bat Working Group’s Mini-bat Blitz in 2010.

The Alabama Bat Working Group will have its spring meeting at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center in the Decatur area on May 2, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Topics will include the results of winter White-nose syndrome surveys, planned summer surveys and monitoring, and reports from subcommittees on ongoing work. If you have an interest in bat and/or bat habitat (caves/karst) conservation and management in Alabama you will not want to miss it! This includes those who would like to learn more about this valuable natural  resource. We look forward to meeting you!

Geomyces destructans Found on Bats in Collier Cave

April 22, 2013

TVA has announced that Geomyces destructans (Gd), the fungus that causes White-nose syndrome (WNS), was found on swabs from gray and tricolored bats in Collier Cave in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Below is their recent announcement.

“White-nose Syndrome Detected in TVA Cave in Alabama

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ― The fast-spreading fungus that causes the deadly white- nose syndrome in bats has been found in Collier Cave in northwestern Alabama on property managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“This occurrence marks the first reporting of white-nose in Lauderdale County and the farthest west the disease has been found in Alabama,” said TVA terrestrial zoologist Liz Burton. “This is the second TVA cave with positive findings of the fungus.”

TVA has been working since 2009 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and statewide teams to develop white-nose syndrome response plans for Tennessee and Alabama, and to collaboratively address the disease across the Southeast. As part of that effort, TVA has closed public access to all caves, sinkholes, tunnels and mines on TVA-managed lands due to concerns that human contact may spread the disease from cave to cave. Since its discovery in 2006 in New York State, white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in 22 states as far west as Missouri and Illinois, and most recently in South Carolina and Georgia, and blamed for the deaths of more than 6 million bats.

Alabama’s first confirmed case was in the winter of 2011-2012, the same season the first infected TVA cave was discovered at Norris Dam Cave near Knoxville. The number of infected caves in Tennessee has more than doubled since a dozen caves were identified a year ago.

“It is likely that future monitoring efforts will reveal further spread of white-nose syndrome in the Tennessee Valley,” Burton said.
Swab samples taken by TVA biologists in 2012 of two bats in Collier Cave tested positive for the fungus after they were re-checked in March 2013 using more sensitive techniques. One bat was a federally endangered gray bat; the other was a tri-colored bat. Neither showed visible signs of the disease, there was no visible mortality at the site, and census numbers were similar to previous years.

In many caves where the disease has been present for several years, mortality rates over 90 percent have been documented. Research suggests that the fungus ─ which often grows into white tufts on the muzzles of infected bats, giving the disease its name ─ may cause a suite of physiological problems. These include wing tissue damage, alteration of circulation and respiratory function, and dehydration. These physiological

disturbances can lead to more frequent arousal during hibernation. “There is no known treatment for the disease or known way to completely stop the fungus from spreading,” Burton said. “The chosen paths forward are to restrict access to caves, monitor the spread, and continue researching exactly how the disease works.”

For more information, see the national white-nose syndrome website at http://whitenosesyndrome.org/ or contact the TVA Environmental Information Center at http://www.tva.gov/environment/eic/ or call 800-822-5263.

Bats play a critical role in the ecosystem by controlling insects, pollinating plants and providing food for other animals. TVA’s work with others to protect caves and monitor numerous gray bat populations is one of TVA’s primary environmental stewardship activities. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.”

Note that this does not confirm the presence of WNS in bats in Collier Cave. Only the skin invasion by Gd can confirm the presence of WNS. However, this information does make these species of bats “Suspect” for WNS in this cave.


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