Colorado Launches New Bat Study

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists are trying to learn more about a disease that has killed millions of bats across North America.
Video: Studying Bats on Colorado’s Western Slope

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is studying bats on Colorado’s Western Slope. The goal is to locate the bat’s hibernaculum — the place where bats spend winter hibernation. In this video, you can see our biologists capturing bats using a fine mesh called a “mist net.” Once captured, bats are weighed and aged (adult vs juvenile). Age is determined by looking at the finger joints to see if they are fully formed. Good candidates are fitted with a tiny radio transmitter (¼ the weight of a dime). The transmitter is attached using medical-grade glue that does not harm the bat. Once the glue has dried and the transmitter is secure, the bat is released. Biologists use a radio receiver and antenna to track the bat’s movement.

In the coming weeks, the radio signals will hopefully lead researchers back to winter roosting sites. Unlike bats that hibernate in caves in eastern North America, most bats in Colorado hibernate in rock crevices found in cliffs, rocky outcroppings, or talus slopes. Biologists hope to learn if these crevice-dwelling bats are affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS) — a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats across North America. Bats provide a huge benefit to our ag community by removing metric tons of insects each year. Projects like this will help to assess the vulnerability of Colorado’s bat populations to white-nose syndrome.

To learn more about bats and white-nose syndrome, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

Story and video by Jerry Neal. Neal is the senior video producer and media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

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