Although some myths cultivated fear among many people, bats need to be protected and preserved because many species are currently endangered.
In addition, bats bring balance to the ecosystem by preying on mosquitoes, the blood-sucking insects widely spread across the country. Some bats have been recently spotted in Minnesota, therefore, several Central Lakes College students joined their efforts with Camp Ripley and Minnesota DNR staff to find out more about those enigmatic creatures and to ensure the local community that they had nothing to fear.
An extensive research has been conducted since 2013 during which researchers have monitored forest bats’ breeding habits during summer. This summer they discovered that Minnesota was home to eight species of bat.
Such a discovery is good news for all biologists and conservational environmentalists because many species of bat are on the verge of extinction. According to Rich Baker, endangered species DNR coordinator, an evening bat has been discovered in Minnesota, although this species has never ventured farther than central Iowa.
Researchers will continue their investigation to establish whether the evening bat has expanded its range or if this has been just a one-time event. The mysterious bat was a female which scientists believed it probably had young ones in the surroundings.
The latest specimen was observed six decades ago, while scientists are trying to gather more information about other species, especially the northern long-eared bats whose population has been decimated by the white-nose syndrome, a fungus which grows Minnesota caves, where four species of bat hibernate.
This syndrome has first occurred in 2006, in New York and despite the officials’ efforts, it has spread across the country killing many colonies. According to Dr. Bill Faber, the CLC head of natural resources department, when they found out about the white-nose syndrome they quickly took action and brought their contribution to the study.
The northern long-eared bat was listed as critically endangered in April 2015 by the USFWS. Based on the reports in January, scientists concluded that the critical habitat was not accurately determined.
According to Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, although critical habitat is essential in preserving many endangered species, the survival of the northern long-eared bats does not depend on this factor which could prove to be rather harmful.
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