Last week we had the opportunity to watch DNR researchers capture and band over a hundred of Devil’s Lake State Park’s little brown bats! As you know, bat populations across the country are in trouble due to a killer fungal disease called “White-Nose Syndrome”. White-Nose Syndrome has killed over 6 million bats in the last few years as it spread across the US. Sadly WNS was discovered in Wisconsin last year.
Researchers came to the Devil’s Lake State Park to collect general health and population information as well as band the bats to track them and see how they are doing over time.
Each bat was examined for their general health, their sex and maturity was identified and logged. A few of the bats had tissue samples taken from their wings to help scientists learn why some bats are able to survive the white-nose disease while most bats are not. After their check up, the bats were banded and released. Researchers will now do follow-up checks on the Devil’s lake bats over the coming years.
One interesting sidenote is that since bat banding programs have begun in Wisconsin, we now know at least one bat is over 32 years old! Who would have guessed that they would be so long-lived?
Once the bats are banded, they are held aloft, and quickly they take off into the darkness to hunt for their evening meal.
Remember, if you’d like to see our little buddies in action, you can join the Devil’s Lake State Park Naturalist every Friday night throughout the summer season for the lawn chair bat watch!