As reported in our first newsletter, bats disturbed in natural cave roosts increasingly have become dependent on less disturbed mines. Some of the world's most important populations now require mines for survival. Nevertheless, safety concerns are leading to the closure of many mines without regard to conserving bats.
The vital importance of surveying mines prior to capping was well illustrated by several examples in our 1983 issue of BATS. Since that time, Dr. Elmer Birney, Curator of Mammals at the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis, has discovered one of the four largest hibernating bat populations known in North America in an abandoned sand mine in western Wisconsin.
Dr. Birney reported his discovery to BCI and the Wisconsin Nature Conservancy just in time to save the bats. He, Dr. Tuttle and Mrs. Carol Leutkens, Executive Secretary of the Madison Audubon Society, met with the owner in early October, 1984. The Nature Conservancy is now negotiating details to protect the mine's half-million bats.
Loss of this bat population would have eliminated many summer colonies over thousands of square miles in a three state region. We thank all who have cooperated to save these bats and especially the State of Minnesota for having funded the survey that led to these bats' discovery.
Dr. Virgil Brack, Jr. recently reported that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation has begun checking for bats prior to closing old mines. They also hope to further define the characteristics that make mines most desirable to bats and plan to consider management of the best sites for bat hibernation.
Let's hope other states will develop similar programs and continue this outstanding progress.