Wanted: Bat Counters

Published Jun 13, 2012

Life not batty enough for you? I have good news, bunky.

Use your love of bats -- those underappreciated bug-eating, totally creepy, flying mammals -- for the sake of humanity!

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources needs volunteers to begin collecting acoustic data from Georgia bats in the wild this month.

[Hint: If you're still reading this, you might be qualified.]

This project will help monitor changes in bat populations, particularly in the face of widespread threats such as white-nose syndrome -- a disease also often referred to as "WNS" that has killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats.

Georgia's 16 bat species [Editor: Oh, my goodness!] eat insects only and use biological sonar called echolocation to navigate, communicate and find prey. The survey that wildlife biologist Trina Morris is organizing will ask volunteers to drive a 30-mile route or "transect" carrying equipment that can record and decipher bat calls by species.

"Acoustic transects provide a great opportunity for the public to be directly involved in collecting data on wildlife species in the state," said Morris, who works with the Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section. "By driving the same routes over time, we can better monitor these species and the impacts of WNS and other impacts to bats in our state."

Protocols and an instructional video posted here describe how and when routes are run (30-minutes after sunset once this month and in July). A map marks where the 31 routes are in the state and which ones are open. Participating states follow similar standards.

Morris will provide the recording equipment -- called an Anabat -- and was purchased for this project through a federal grant. Volunteers need a vehicle, plus the flexibility and dedication to run the routes as needed, report the data and hopefully agree to participate for more than one summer.

"We are looking for volunteers who can commit to this project for several years and are willing to help transport equipment and coordinate with other volunteers," Morris said. "It's a big effort but a great opportunity for citizens to get involved with bat conservation in Georgia."

Remember, hikers! Bats work tirelessly to keep the Appalachian Trail bug free!

Bat People! Click Here for the Anabat Project

Interested volunteers can contact Ms. Morris at gadnrbats@gadnr.org or (770) 918-6411.

[Sorry, batfolks, this is not your big opportunity to meet this author.]

Georgians can also help conserve bats and other animals not hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as native plants and habitats, by purchasing or renewing a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird license plate. These license plates are vital to the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds.

Tags: Appalachian Trail

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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