A program later this month on Minnesota bats at Whitewater State Park will focus on their habits as well as the threat to their existence.
Summer Bat Count is May 28 at the park in Altura, Minn.
“The big idea behind it is to get people aware of (challenges facing Minnesota bats), and we’re also trying to get young people out to see the bats,” said park naturalist Jeremy Darst.
The event will focus on common species at the park, such as the northern long-eared bat, and current threats to bats. White-nosed syndrome made its appearance in Minnesota in January when hundreds of bats died in the cold outside Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park. Evidence of the lethal fungus also has turned up at Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park in Preston.
Rich Baker, endangered species coordinator with the state Department of Natural Resources, said the northern long-eared bat was designated as a federally threatened species last year. The DNR, along with the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Forest Service, is in the second year of a three-year study of the species, focused on its forest habitat and reproduction, he said.
“(The bat) and other bat species summer in the forests, and during that time give birth to young. Since reproduction is so critical to the survival of any species, we are interested in learning as much as possible about the habitat these bats use,” Baker said in an email.
Researchers netted bats for tracking at four locations in Minnesota in 2015, Baker said. They attached transmitters to 24 bats and followed those bats to 71 roosting trees. Netting will occur this year at 15 locations, including Whitewater Management Area and Mystery Cave park, Baker said, with a plan to place transmitters on as many as 60 bats.
More information on the Whitewater bat program is online at mndnr.gov/ptcalendar.