Glacier National Park Begins Bat Inventory and Monitoring Study
WEST GLACIER, MT. - Glacier National Park, in conjunction with Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, announces the start of a two year bat inventory and monitoring project this month. The study will attempt to determine which bat species reside in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, where they occur, which habitats they select for roosting and foraging, and whether bats hibernate in the parks.
A Canadian bat biologist will help Glacier National Park personnel to learn bat inventory and monitoring techniques, including how to conduct daytime building and bridge inspections, deployment of acoustic recording devices, and mist-netting. Bats are extremely difficult to study because they are nocturnal, their calls are inaudible to the human ear, and they roost during the day. Signs will be posted to warn visitors hiking at dusk or after dark when mist-netting efforts are occurring along park trails.
Current knowledge of bats in Waterton-Glacier is nearly nonexistent, as no formal studies on these animals have ever been conducted in the parks. Increasing understanding of bats is particularly important right now, as a disease called white-nose syndrome is killing bats in eastern North America. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is identifiable by a white fungus, likely the cold-loving Geomyces destructans, found growing on the nose and wing membranes of affected bats. Since its discovery in New York in 2006, WNS has been responsible for the death of over one million bats and is now found in 17 states and three Canadian provinces. Biologists are nearly certain that it will eventually make its way West.
The information gained through this study will help shape management decisions in the two parks, ultimately assisting in monitoring the spread of WNS. For further information, please contact Mark Biel, Acting Chief of Science and Resources Management at (406) 888-7821 or Lisa Bate, Lead Biological Technician, at (406) 888-7833.
Did You Know?
Grizzly bears in the park have a wide variety of food sources, including glacier lily bulbs, insects, and berries. They may also make an early season meal of mountain goats that were swept down in avalanches over the winter.