by Hadley Barndollar, New Hampshire Bulletin
Just as tourists converge on New Hampshire to take up seasonal residence, another mammal will make summer homes in sought-after barns, attics, and church steeples across the state.
Bats spend the summertime roosting in warm, dark, quiet places, while taking flight at night to eat and drink. Wildlife biologists in the Granite State need help tracking them. Those who have bats inhabiting their properties can help monitor summer colonies by contributing citizen science to the New Hampshire Bat Counts Project, a partnership of the state’s Fish and Game Department and UNH Cooperative Extension.
By conducting at least one count in June and one in July, volunteers can take part in the statewide bat count during a time when monitoring maternity colonies – where female bats gather to have their babies – is perhaps more important than ever, biologists say.
White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that grows on the muzzle, ears, wings, and tails of bats while they hibernate, has caused significant declines in populations throughout the Northeast.
The disease is mostly fatal, and all five of the state’s hibernating bat species (little and big brown bats, northern long-eared bats, eastern small-footed bats, and tricolored bats) have suffered major losses, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game. Little brown bats, which used to be the most numerous in the Northeast, have experienced the most deaths.
In 2018, Fish and Game reported counting just one little brown bat, compared to more than 3,100 10 years earlier. The species is now considered endangered in New Hampshire.
How to participate in New Hampshire’s bat count
Volunteers can help monitor populations by conducting “emergence counts” at roost sites on their properties. Those interested can visit the New Hampshire Bat Counts website at wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/bats.html for information on how to conduct a count and submit data.
Two upcoming educational events will teach interested volunteers more about New Hampshire’s bat species, threats to the populations, and ways people can assist with conservation efforts.
- NH Bat Counts Training: May 24, 7-9 p.m. at Fox State Forest in Hillsborough. Register here: https://naturegroupie.org/experiences/nh-bat-counts-training-0.
- Bats of New Hampshire: June 13, 7-9 p.m. at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness. Register here: https://naturegroupie.org/experiences/bats-new-hampshire.
This story was written by Hadley Barndollar, a reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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