Northern long-eared bat (photo courtesy USDA Forest Service)

(by Jeremy Caggiano, chair of the Science & Technology committee)

The impact Indiana bat has had on forest land management is significant. In light of the possibility that Northern Long-eared Bat (NLEB) may be listed to the Endangered Species Act, there is an increased interest among foresters and other conservation professionals in becoming qualified to conduct winter and summer bat surveys. Having the ability to independently and properly conduct a bat survey could enable treatment of declining forest stands, expedite implementation of timeframes, as well as reduce preparatory logistical challenges and costs incurred by private forestland owners.

Furthermore, it is important to note that based on existing literature, forestry doesn’t constitute an additional stress to NLEB. Instead, responsibly executed silviculture can result in improved maternal roosting and foraging habitat. If NJ Approved Consulting Foresters had the tools and training, they would be able to efficiently determine the presence or probable absence of these bats. Equipped with this knowledge the forester would be able proceed with management as planned or properly mitigate the risk associated with the incidental take of Indiana and Northern Long-eared bats.

To date, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) doesn’t train or certify bat surveyors but they do maintain a list of qualified individuals. Depending on intent, surveyors may subsequently be required to obtain a State Scientific Collecting Permit from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife as well as other permits, licenses, or authorizations required by federal and local authorities. The qualifications these individuals have obtained are also applicable to surveying for NLEB as long as the surveyors are able to identify suitable NLEB habitat and correctly differentiate NLEB from similar bat species.

Bat Conservation Incorporated currently offers bat workshops and training courses: http://www.batmanagement.com/Programs/programcentral.html

4 monitoring antenna

Monitoring antenna (photo courtesy nhbs.com)

USFWS requires those interested in conducting surveys to supply them with information that ensures they meet the minimum qualifications to be added to their list. Along with resumes and references, candidate surveyors must be able to confidently identify suitable Indiana Bat and NLEB habitats. They must have proficiency in selecting proper sampling sites, conducting mist netting and harp trapping. They will have to have a level of expertise in the proper care and handling of captured bats, experience applying bands as well as collecting and recording biometric data on live bats. Surveyors will also have to understand how to attach radio transmitters to bats and conduct radio telemetry tracking.

These are just some of the minimum requirements for surveyors to date. These qualifications are robust and thorough, ensuring the protection of bats. Individuals interested in proceeding with becoming trained should also understand they will likely have a monetary investment associated with accumulating all the necessary equipment to properly conduct independent bat studies.