A University of Arkansas researcher says efforts by conservation groups to protect bat caves have allowed endangered bat species in the United States to recover.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. A University of Arkansas researcher says efforts by conservation groups to protect bat caves have allowed endangered bat species in the United States to recover.
Biologist Kimberly G. Smith credits groups including the nonprofit Bat Conservation International with preserving habitat and helping the recovery of species including subspecies of the big-earned bat and the Indiana bat.
Three endangered bat species live in Arkansas: the Indiana bat, the gray bat and the Ozark long-eared bat, Smith said. He credited the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission with helping protect their caves from vandals.
"They have purchased a number of critical bat caves and they have erected a number of bat gates and a number of bat fences," he said.
When teenagers come into the caves to drink beer or write on the walls in the winter, the hibernating bats can become disturbed and start flying around, burning the small stores of fat meant to last them through the cold months, he said.
"They can use up that energy in a matter of minutes," he said.
According to Bat Conservation International at least 13 species of bats use bat houses in the United States and more than 100,000 bats roost in them each year.
Last month, Smith talked about bat conservation efforts at a conference in South Korea. He was invited by a former student, Changman Won, who now works in conservation for the South Korean government.
Some Koreans were unfamiliar with the concept of private organizations raising money to save bats, he said.
"That was something that they were really surprised because they asked me, how do a lot of things get funded," Smith said.
Smith doesn't conduct his research only on bats. He also studies birds, black bears in Arkansas, and forest insects such as gypsy moths.
Source: Associated Press