Northern bats prove elusive in Pine Barrens summer surveys

An adult female Northern Myotis captured and tracked by radio in Ocean County, summer 2016. (Photo by NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife)

While biologists from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s New Jersey field office were able to capture a few northern bats during 2021 surveys in the Pine Barrens, this year the team focused on found himself shorthanded. Northern long-eared bats — which are tiny, brown-furred, big-eared creatures — are federally threatened due to their susceptibility to white-nose syndrome, and their population has seen a steep decline, Meaghan said. FCF Lyon.

As Lyon explained, “WNS is a fungal disease that has heavily affected bats in Myotis family. The white-nosed mushroom grows in cold, damp environments like caves and mines – a perfect habitat for many bats. This devastating disease has killed more than six million bats nationwide since its discovery in 2006.

“Other threats that have been observed for Northern Myotis include wind power-related mortality, summer habitat loss, winter habitat loss or disturbance, and climate change. ” The state, she added, has proposed placing this species on the endangered species list.

Lyon pointed out: “Due to the spread of white-nose syndrome and the vast decline of most bat species in the northeast, other bats of the same genus, such as the little bat brown, are also of interest during mist net surveys.”

Mist nets are made of thin, unobtrusive yarns such as nylon or polyester mesh. “Mistnet surveys for bats begin at sundown and continue for five hours until early morning,” Lyon explained. “The nets are set up along travel corridors through the woods with a canopy and nearby wetland feeding areas.

“As the bats make their way to and from their roosts and foraging areas, they weave their way through the corridors and into our nets. The bats are quickly and carefully extracted from the nets and then walked a short distance to our “camp”, where they are processed.”

Last year, the team captured two northern myotis and two little brown myotis. “Two of the four bats were able to be tagged and tracked to their roosts,” Lyon noted. “These surveys help state and federal agencies protect summer bat habitat where bats, year after year, raise their young and forage in the forest and wetlands.

“Unfortunately, the biologists weren’t so lucky this year and didn’t catch any of the target species. Many of the same travel corridors, among several new habitats, have been studied. Although many of these bat species show examples of site fidelity, there is no guarantee that our population of target species will persist in the region.

Although the species targeted by the survey were not found this year, the results from the mist nets reveal how other bats, such as the big brown bat and the red bat, use the Pine Barrens habitat. For more information on recent bat captures, visit —JK-H.

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