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News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

"Bats help control insect populations, pollinate flowers, disperse seeds, and are increasingly threatened," said Sherwood Snyder, director of product management at Wildlife Acoustics.  "Our new modules provide a fun and educational tool to become engaged with bats and their plight." Echo Meter Touch 2 ($179) is designed for budget-minded nature enthusiasts and batting hobbyists, while the Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro ($349) is designed for bat professionals. The updated Echo Meter Touch companion app is also available for free on the App Store and is also compatible with the original Echo Meter Touch module. Wildlife Acoustics, the leading provider of bioacoustics monitoring and analysis systems, completely redesigned its ultrasonic module including a new patent pending horn that improves listening.  The Pro version has additional advanced features including an adjustable mic gain to better detect distant or quiet bats and a selectable sample rate to record bats with very high frequency calls. The modules, which connect via the Apple Lightening connector, listen for and record bat ultrasonic calls and displays them on a highly configurable, full-color spectrogram in real-time. The app automatically reveals the most likely bat species for each recording and tags the file with the recording location. Recordings can be easily shared with other bat enthusiasts or transferred to any computer for additional analysis. Along with the new modules, Wildlife Acoustics has updated the Echo Meter Touch iOS app. The new app has the same spectrogram and likely species identification features as the original, but now includes beautiful bat images by esteemed bat expert and photographer Merlin Tuttle, author of The Secret Lives of Bats, My Adventures with the World's Most Misunderstood Mammals, who founded Bat Conservation International and currently leads Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation. "Tuttle's images give bats a dignified face," added Snyder. "Seeing those portraits on the screen while a bat flies overhead really makes you feel connected to these magnificent creatures." Bats have long been misunderstood and demonized all the while playing a crucial role in our ecosystems by controlling insect populations and pollinating flowers.  A 2011 study estimated that bats have an economic impact of about $3.7 billion a year in reduced crop damage and pesticide use in the United States. Over the past decade, the populations of several species of bats have been decimated by white-nose syndrome (WNS). The syndrome is named for the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects the skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.  Since the winter of 2008 it has killed untold millions of bats.  WNS has been confirmed in 31 states and five Canadian provinces from Rhode Island to Washington state. "We've seen bat numbers decline by almost 80 percent in the Northeast due to WNS, so every time I hear an affected species on my Echo Meter Touch, I'm encouraged that the bats that managed to survive are beginning to rebuild their populations," added Snyder. Echo Meter Touch 2 follows Wildlife Acoustics' recent release of Song Sleuth, a simple to use and powerful application that enables anyone with an iOS device to record, recognize and positively identify the songs of nearly 200 North American birds.  Song Sleuth also includes exclusive artwork, maps, information, and charts by renowned birding expert David Sibley. ABOUT WILDLIFE ACOUSTICS Wildlife Acoustics, Inc., (www.wildlifeacoustics.com) creates groundbreaking and affordable hardware and software tools for scientists, researchers, and government agencies worldwide who monitor birds, frogs, bats, insects fish, whales, elephants, rhinos and more. Wildlife Acoustics is the leading provider of monitoring systems that use bioacoustics, an emerging field of research that combines biology and acoustic data to gain insights into the natural world. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-bat-detecting-iphone-app-and-plug-in-modules-reveal-the-amazing-world-of-bats-300451543.html


Bad news for bats: White-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that has been killing millions of bats across the Northeast, has reached Texas. Conservationists and state and federal wildlife officials confirmed in March that the fungal infection has been detected in bats in the Texas panhandle. The encroachment onto the Southwest has hit three species — the tri-colored bat, cave myotis, and Townsend’s big-eared bat — the latter two of which are primarily western species who have been largely unaffected until now. “It is a turning point,” said Jonah Evans, a state mammologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “It is the first time that we’ve detected it in bats with a primarily western distribution.” White-nose syndrome was first discovered in New York in 2007, and has spread out from that epicenter in the decade since. The disease is caused by a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which thrives in the cold and damp environments where many bat species typically hibernate in large numbers during the winter. Infected bats typically show white noses, as well as wings, ears or tail, from the fungus. They can often be seen flying in the winter, when they’re supposed to be hibernating in caves. Normally, a bat could preen off much of the invading fungus; in fact, its warm body temperature and active immune system usually fend off any invasion from the cold-loving Pd. But Northeastern bats hibernate during the frigid winter months, in cold caves that are perfect for the fungus and in large numbers that make it easy to spread. While hibernating, bats’ bodies go into what’s known as “torpor” to preserve precious fat reserves, lowering both their body temperature and their immune system activity. This allows the fungus to spread so much that it finally wakes the animals up, usually in the dead of winter. The weakened bat then must go looking for food in the cold, and often dies of starvation. “They’re sitting ducks,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In some caves in the Northeast, the fungus has killed off around 95% of the bat population, officials said. “It is truly the most devastating wildlife disease that we have to deal with right now,” said Katie Gillies, director of Bat Conservation International’s imperiled species program. “In North America we’ve never seen anything like this.” Scientists think Pd is an invasive species whose native grounds lie in Europe and Asia. European bats are appear to be resistant to the fungus; American hibernating species, which did not evolve in the presence of this threat, are not. Because this is a cold-loving species that takes advantage of hibernation periods, some scientists hoped that the fungus would remain a northeastern problem, and not make it to warmer regions. But the fungus has since spread to Mississippi and to Georgia, and even to Washington state (a jump probably enabled by a human traveler who brought it into a cave with contaminated gear, clothing or other belongings). “I think a lot of people have kind of stuck their heads in the sand hoping that it wouldn’t show up in the South and hoping it wouldn’t show up in the West,” Gillies said. “But every single time that people hang their hat on that hope, the fungus dashes it.” So scientists have still been preparing for the spread, testing bats in the northern regions of the Lone Star State — areas most likely to first see infected bats. The scientists would visit caves and rub cotton swabs across the slumbering bats’ snouts, causing them to wriggle and squirm and their mouths to gape open. “They’re usually a little crabby about it … they kind of squawk at you in really cute slow motion, if you can just picture that,” Gillies said of her groggy subjects. Scientists then send them to the lab for genetic analysis. This year, researchers discovered low levels of the fungus’ presence in three species: the tri-colored bat, cave myotis and Townsend’s big-eared bat. Except for an isolated eastern subspecies of Townsend’s called the Virginia big-eared bat, the two latter species have a western distribution and previously had not been infected with the fungus. With a toehold on these two species, the infection could potentially now spread farther west. Texas is a sort of Grand Central station for bats: With 32 species, it has the highest level of bat diversity in the nation. While many bats stick to the eastern states and others stay in the West, the edges of their ranges overlap in the Lone Star State. To ecologists, this makes Texas a worrisome transfer point. They fear that southwestern and western bats will contract the fungus and carry it even farther, to species whose behaviors, movements and reactions to the disease are not well known. “We need to continue to develop a wide suite of tools that we can use for those conditions that are slightly different,” Coleman said. Texas is home to the Mexican (also known as Brazilian) free-tailed bats; in the summer, the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin features the largest urban bat colony in North America. While those bats migrate during the winter instead of hibernating, and may not be susceptible to the fungus, they fly long distances and could carry it to other bat species who may be vulnerable to infection. The fungus’ arrival in the Texas panhandle, then, marks a significant turning point in the fungus’ advance, scientists said. Pd’s spread could not only affect the rich diversity of species in North America; it could also have profound economic impacts. Many of these insectivorous bat species eat crop pests, performing vital agricultural services for farmers valued at about $1.4 billion in Texas alone. Across North America, according to a study in the journal Science, bats’ agricultural contribution is estimated to be around $22.9 billion (with an estimated range of $3.7 billion to $53 billion). In a worst-case scenario — if bats such as the Brazilian free-tailed bat and others that are thought to be less susceptible do get hit hard by the disease, it could have significant implications for the economy, scientists pointed out. “That’s almost like a national security concern,” Evans said. “That’s a massive loss if Mexican free-tailed bats are impacted. … So we’re just hopeful that some of our bats are more resilient to it.” As the fungus spreads, researchers say they are trying to learn what they can and find ways to save bats or fight the disease, before it spreads deeper south and west.


News Article | December 6, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

White-nose syndrome has decimated the little brown bat, but researchers found small populations in New York that appear to have developed resistance to the disease Bat populations in some places in North America appear to have developed resistance to the deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. Researchers from UC Santa Cruz analyzed infection data and population trends of the little brown bat in the eastern United States and found that populations in New York that had stabilized after initial declines had much lower infection levels at the end of winter than populations that were still declining. The little brown bat was previously one of the most abundant bat species in the eastern United States, but was reduced to less than 10 percent of its former population with the arrival of white-nose syndrome. The fungus was introduced to New York State in 2006, and it continues to spread in the United States and Canada, causing declines of 90 percent or more in several species. UC Santa Cruz researchers led by biologists Marm Kilpatrick and Winifred Frick have been at the forefront of research on the disease, conducting field surveys to help track its spread and studying the dynamics of disease transmission and the impacts on bat populations. In the new study, researchers sampled hibernating bats at nine sites in New York, Illinois, and Virginia, using a standardized sampling technique to detect and quantify the amount of fungus on each bat. They then used mathematical modeling techniques to examine differences in disease dynamics between persisting and declining populations. Their findings were published December 5 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. "Populations of little brown bats have declined dramatically across their range. There have been several reports that populations in New York, where the disease was first introduced, are no longer declining, but no one understood why," said first author Kate Langwig, who worked on the study as a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and is now at Harvard University. "This study is the first to indicate that little brown bats appear to have evolved resistance to the disease." The researchers considered several possible hypotheses for the ability of some bats to persist with the fungus: host resistance, host tolerance, and lower transmission. Their results pointed toward host resistance causing lower growth rates of the fungus during late winter. The results did not support the other hypotheses, Langwig said. The mechanism underlying the resistance of little brown bats remains unknown. "It could be changes in arousal behavior, differences in skin microbes, or an activation of the immune response by bats after infection has reached a moderate level. Future studies are needed to uncover these details," Langwig said. The authors emphasized that they have only examined populations of a single bat species. "For other species, like the northern long-eared bat, we don't have evidence to suggest populations are persisting inside hibernacula," Langwig said. "While this study is good news for some colonies of little brown bats, other species show little sign of being able to persist with the disease." In addition to Langwig, the coauthors of the paper include Winifred Frick and Marm Kilpatrick, both faculty members in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz; Joseph Hoyt, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz; and Katy Parise and Jeffrey Foster at the University of New Hampshire. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Woodtiger Fund, and Bat Conservation International.


Kroll A.J.,Weyerhaeuser Company | Lacki M.J.,University of Kentucky | Arnett E.B.,Bat Conservation International
Western Journal of Applied Forestry | Year: 2012

Snags provide habitat for numerous vertebrates and invertebrates. We review how current regulatory guidelines and forest management practices influence snag populations on intensively managed landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. We identify ecological relationships that require investigation to assess alternative practices that optimize ecological and economic goals. Functional and numerical relationships among snag type, abundance, and distribution and demographic responses of both vertebrates and invertebrates are poorly understood. Relatively little is known about temporal and spatial distributions of snags required to maintain viable populations of cavity-dependent taxa or how landscape-scale features (e.g., proximity and amount of mature and late-successional forest) interact with snag types and distributions at the stand level to influence wildlife responses. Regulations for snag retention have been developed and implemented with a substantial degree of uncertainty about their ecological effectiveness. Current regulations, designed to protect forest workers from injury, typically limit retention of snags of large size and advanced decay classes that are often the most limited snag types on intensively managed landscapes. We describe current findings and future research needs that can be used to evaluate operational and ecological effectiveness of current regulations that influence snag management. We identify questions of interest and frame these within the appropriate ecological context of intensively managed landscapes. Copyright © 2012 by the Society of American Foresters.


News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Perched among the branches and needles of California's redwood forests are nestled wayfaring hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus). A migratory species capable of traveling hundreds of miles, hoary bats may wander throughout western North America before settling into California's north coast...to sleep. While it's not unusual for some species of bat to migrate or other species to hibernate, it is unusual to find a species of bat that does both. Hoary bats are one of North America's largest bats at 5 inches in length and also one of the continent's most distinguished with its frosted fur for which it takes its name. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station have documented the first recorded evidence of hoary bats going into a state of torpor, or hibernation. Published earlier this month in Scientific Reports and just in time for National Bat Week, Oct. 24-31, "First Direct Evidence of Long-distance Seasonal Movements and Hibernation in a Migratory Bat" reports newly discovered behaviors in hoary bats. "It's commonly assumed that species that migrate do so to reach areas that allow them to continue feeding and remain somewhat active throughout the winter," said lead author Ted Weller, an ecologist with the Forest Service. "But our findings surprised even our own research team by showing that hoary bats spend much of the winter in hibernation." In September 2014, Weller and his colleagues tagged several bats within Humboldt Redwoods State Park with GPS tracking devices and another group of bats with a device that monitored light levels, body temperatures and activity, which allowed them to understand how bats responded to varying weather conditions. "While such tracking and monitoring technology has existed for a while, it hasn't been until somewhat recently that these units were made small enough to be affixed to animals of this size," Weller said. A month later, two of the GPS-equipped bats were recaptured and their data downloaded. One of the bats met the expected behavior of "site fidelity," with its longest single-day trek being about 4 miles from the initial capture site. The second bat was surprising in that it had produced multiple single-day treks ranging from 30 to 45 miles. However, it was the third bat recaptured several months later that produced the most intriguing behavior. For the month of October, Bat VHF5 flew more than 600 miles, making a loop into southern Oregon, then into interior California, then over to the Nevada-California border, and then back again into interior California. "It's hard to determine what led to such a journey," Weller said. "Was he seeking favorable temperatures and humidity for roosting and foraging? Was he trying to intercept females to mate with as they migrated to their wintering grounds?" The monitoring devices attached to the other group of bats also offered new insights into the species. Two bats from that group were recaptured in spring, with one of the bat's devices having captured 224 days of data. Based on lowered body temperatures and inactivity, that bat exhibited the signs of being in a torpor state from November 2014 through April 2015, including a 40-day stretch without flying. Which again leads researchers to the question: Why would a species capable of migrating hibernate? The answer could lie within the bats' roosting habitat. "Hoary bats roost outside in trees as opposed to inside caves," Weller said. "It's possible that hoary bats are evolved to hibernate, but would freeze if they did so in their northern summer territories." The Redwoods, in particular, are ideal in that they offer an environment with lots of shelter, cool temperatures and plenty of moisture to reduce the risk of dehydration. Similar to other migratory species, understanding seasonal movements and wintering habits are essential for conservation efforts. And because most bat research is confined to summer when bats are most active, these findings are especially useful. "This research has provided us with a valuable look into the lives of hoary bats rarely before seen, and until now, never before documented to this extent," Weller said. "Knowing more about their lives outside of the summer months will help us better understand what steps might best promote their conservation." Research partners included Wildlife Veterinary Consulting out of Livermore, Colorado, the Swiss Ornithological Institute out of Sempach, Switzerland, Bat Conservation International out of Austin, Texas, the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center out of Fort Collins, Colorado. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.


News Article | October 18, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Since the discovery of Zika virus-infected mosquitoes in Miami Beach two months ago, the city has become ground zero of the disease in the United States. There were dozens of reported cases of infection, and the first confirmations took place back in August. Because of the news, the local economy suffered dramatically, especially after travel warnings were announced. Since then, efforts have been made to combat Zika, but aerial sprayings have proven to be inefficient in the Miami Beach area that is home to the virus-carrying mosquitoes. After multiple rounds of spraying, the county officials discovered a new pool of Zika-positive mosquitoes on Sept. 23. This week, however, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, the Miami Beach commissioner, has unveiled a new proposal to get rid of the mosquitoes: attract bats into the city. The idea behind this is to reduce the mosquito population in a natural manner, by using other members of the ecosystem. "Aerial spraying of Naled has been used by Miami-Dade County to help eradicate the disease-carrying mosquitoes, but the presence of Zika-infected mosquitoes in the City of Miami Beach continues to be reported by County health officials," as noted in the commissioner's ordinance. The bats will not be affected by the exposure to the virus, according to most of the scientific views. However, it's entirely possible that the measure will fail to be effective, as mosquitoes fly during the day, while bats are usually active during the night, which may prevent the two species from ever entering in contact with one another. "Bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour and offer an environmentally friendly approach to mosquito control," explained Rosen Gonzalez. The pilot program would involve creating bat houses as a first step in attracting the animals. Additional concerns were expressed on the use of pesticides during the bats' stay in the area, as spraying pesticides could kill the animals, according to the national organization Bat Conservation International. There are previously documented attempts to attract bats into certain areas. Back in 1929, a real-estate developer faced a similar situation. However, the bats flew away instead of just moving into the environment he had especially created, which turned the entire plan into a fiasco. As of Oct. 17, there are 160 non-travel-related cases reported with Zika and 739 travel-related ones, as four new non-travel related cases and another travel-related one were reported. More than 100 of these involved pregnant women. "Large, concentrated populations of mosquitoes could provide adequate nutrition in the absence of alternative food. However, a moth provides much more nutritional value per capture than a mosquito," noted the American Mosquito Control Association. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Hein C.D.,Bat Conservation International | Schirmacher M.R.,Bat Conservation International
Human-Wildlife Interactions | Year: 2016

Since 2003, when it was discovered that large numbers of bats were being killed at wind turbines in the eastern United States, our understanding of the impact of wind energy development on bats has increased and consistent patterns of fatality, including seasonality and species composition have become evident. Yet, many questions remain despite the wealth of data collected across numerous post-construction monitoring studies. We synthesized the recent literature to provide an overview of our current understanding of patterns of bat fatalities at wind energy facilities in the United States and Canada. Our understanding of the impact of wind energy development on bats continues to be hindered by inconsistencies among studies and lack of publicly available data. It will be difficult to fully address this complex issue and develop sustainable strategies to reduce the impact of wind turbines on bats and generate wind energy without standardized protocols for field methods, estimation of fatality, and greater cooperation among stakeholders.


Arnett E.B.,Bat Conservation International | Huso M.M.P.,Oregon State University | Schirmacher M.R.,Bat Conservation International | Hayes J.P.,University of Florida
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2011

Wind-turbine operations are associated with bat mortality worldwide; minimizing these fatalities is critically important to both bat conservation and public acceptance of wind-energy development. We tested the effectiveness of raising wind-turbine cut-in speed - defined as the lowest wind speed at which turbines generate power to the utility system, thereby reducing turbine operation during periods of low wind speeds - to decrease bat mortality at the Casselman Wind Project in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, over a 2-year period. Observed bat mortality at fully operational turbines was, on average, 5.4 and 3.6 times greater than mortality associated with curtailed (ie non-operating) turbines in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Relatively small changes to wind-turbine operation resulted in nightly reductions in bat mortality, ranging from 44% to 93%, with marginal annual power loss (< 1% of total annual output). Our findings suggest that increasing turbine cut-in speeds at wind facilities in areas of conservation concern during times when active bats may be at particular risk from turbines could mitigate this detrimental aspect of wind-energy generation. © The Ecological Society of America.


News Article | April 1, 2016
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

A hiker who noticed a little brown bat dying on a trail near the slopes of the Cascade Mountains in western Washington did what he could to save it. He took it to an animal health center, but within two days it was gone. The death in mid-March seemed unremarkable until a veterinarian who examined the animal made a discovery that set off alarms heard all the way to Washington, D.C. The bat showed advanced signs of white-nose syndrome, a mass killer that emerged in New York about 10 years ago and slowly migrated as far west as Nebraska, leaving nearly 7 million bats dead in its wake. Its sudden, thousand-mile leap to the Pacific Northwest is a grave concern to every biologist who studies the winged mammals. The find potentially opens up a second epicenter for the fungus. Even now, scientists don’t know precisely where it came from, much less where it’s going. All they know is that it kills virtually every bat it touches. [The toll from White Nose syndrome: Nearly 7 million bats] “I think this is really bad,” said Katie Gillies, director of the Imperiled Species Program at Bat Conservation International in Texas. “I really do think this is a big leap. Now we’re going to see it radiate from that new point. It’s like having breast cancer and finding that it’s metastasized.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has tracked white-nose syndrome since 2006, also expressed alarm, but with far more reserve. The next steps will involve genetic testing of the dead bat, along with analysis of the disease that killed it, and then a state-led sweep of the trails and mountain crevices visited by bats near the hiker’s discovery. “We are extremely concerned about the confirmation,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. “Bats are a crucial part of our ecology and provide essential pest control for our farmers, foresters and city residents, so it is important that we stay focused on stopping the spread of this fungus.” Wildlife biologists want to be sure of where this disease strain originated. Among the questions they’re seeking to answer: Did a traveler track it from Europe or Asia all the way to the west coast? Or did some cave explorer get the fungus on his or her gear in the east and bring it west? They want at least a clue to how long the fungus has lived out west. Considering the haggard condition of the dead bat, including its ravaged wings, a tell-tale sign of white nose, it’s been there for a while. “Every single avenue we look at seems far fetched,” said Greg Falxa, a wildlife biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This bat had the deterioration already, which suggests the fungus didn’t just get here this year. Who knows how it got here? Everything is speculation right now. We’re starting surveillance in that area.” That immediate surveillance is yet another sign of the degree of concern. White-nose syndrome has nearly pushed brown bats in Pennsylvania and New York to extinction. It’s now established in at least 25 states and several Canadian provinces. Their loss has substantial implications for humans. Bats eat insects by the metric ton every night, with a pregnant female capable of devouring nearly a hundred moths and other pests. In a single summer, a colony of 150 brown bats can eat enough adult cucumber beetles to prevent the laying of eggs that result in 33 million rootworm larvae, according to a study cited by Bat Conservation International. [A cry in the dark but no answer: This is how a fungus kills bats] Without bats, insects would be free to ravage farm crops and trees, among other things. Their value to U.S. farmers has been estimated at $3 billion a year. In addition to little brown bats, long-eared bats, big brown bats, Indiana bats and grey bats have been impacted. Falxa said the latest discovery led to a frenzy of conferences between his agency, Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Geological Survey. They have one hope: Bats in the west don’t congregate in caves and mine shafts by the tens of thousands the way they do in the east, so maybe, Falxa said, the fungus won’t spread as fast. But Gillies, who was once a biologist in Nevada, called that a false hope. “We’ve got 15 western species that have the potential to be infected,” she said. “Containment is not going to be possible.” Gillies offered a prediction, saying that as the fungus wipes out the most susceptible bats, others will flourish in their absence because of less competition and a larger abundance of food. Still, even if they develop an immunity to the fungus as their counterparts did in Asia and Europe, “bats are really long lived… and slow to reproduce,” she said. “They’re very slow to rebound. We won’t see it in our lifetime.” Bats are hit hard by a deadly one-two punch: White nose and wind mills Ten reasons why bats are a lot cooler than you think For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here, and follow us on Twitter here.


The American wind energy industry is confident in the ability of current and future conservation measures to protect the hoary bat species from being threatened by wind turbines. The American Wind Energy Association responded this week to a recently published study which raised the spectre of extinction for Lasiurus cinereus, the hoary bat. According to the study, published in the journal Biological Conservation and authored by a group of international experts, concluded that 128,000 hoary bats are killed each year (though the available press material and journal abstract do not explicitly state this figure is entirely the fault of wind turbines), and that even if no new wind turbines are built over the next 50 years, the species’ population could decline by as much as 90% over the same period. “The hoary bat could be the next spotted owl,” said Mike Daulton, Executive Director of Bat Conservation International. “This species is headed for the emergency room if we don’t act now.” “These findings are a wakeup call. Our study focused on the hoary bat, which has the highest observed fatalities,” explained Winifred Frick, Senior Director of Conservation Science for Bat Conservation International and lead author on the paper. “Other migratory bats also have high levels of mortality from wind turbines.” “We need to implement significant conservation measures to reduce mortality from wind turbine collisions and soon — effective conservation measures will help not just hoary bats but all bats that get killed by turbines.” Over the past several decades there have always been studies investigating the impact wind turbines have on the mortality of wildlife — and in almost every situation I can pinpoint, wind energy developers are not only required but enthusiastic about conducting serious and intensive wildlife conservation research and studies on their prospective sites. Additionally, as explained by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in its response to the new research, the studies’ conclusions do not necessarily take into account all the relevant facts. “The wind industry is confident that the conservation measures we have put in place and those in the pipeline can prevent the scenario articulated in this study,” said Tom Vinson, Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs with the AWEA. “These conservation measures were not considered by the authors.” “The wind energy industry takes its wildlife conservation responsibilities seriously, including with respect to bats, and is proactively working to reduce our impacts. Even for bats that are not protected by federal law, the industry conducts pre-construction studies to understand potential risks and develops bat conservation strategies to address any concerns. That includes provisions to implement additional conservation measures if issues arise, and monitoring at operating facilities to verify actual impacts.” The Bat Conservation International experts report were similarly not as doom-and-gloom as the report detailed. “Solutions are within our grasp,” said Mike Daulton. “We have great hope that this is a problem that the conservation community, key government agencies and the wind industry can work together to solve.” The AWEA also commented on some of these “solutions” that might help mitigate undue harm to bat populations. “Early results of the research into acoustic deterrent devices, for example using ultrasonic sounds that bats can detect to ward them away from turbines, have shown promise and that research continues,” explained Tom Vinson. “Various bat species have been significantly harmed by white nose syndrome and are at further risk as a result of climate change, for which expanding wind energy is a leading solution. The wind industry has a legacy of care for the environment and will continue to work to protect bats while addressing these larger threats to their survival.” Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

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