THE PARKS MENTIONED HERE and in the accompanying article are only a portion of those active in the conservation of their bats or that are dedicated to correcting past abuses. In addition to protective action, many more are also working to educate visitors. Some have exhibits in their visitor centers, and others discuss bats during evening campfire talks, most of them relying on
BCI slide programs and other BCI-produced educational materials.
Both Colorado National Monument in western Colorado, and Utah's Capital Reef National Park have erected bat gates to protect big-eared bat colonies in mines, a species known to be especially dependent upon abandoned mines. New River Gorge in West Virginia has surveyed 102 mine openings for bats, resulting in 33 bat gates. Big South Fork National River, spanning the Tennessee and Kentucky border, also erected seven bat gates after a mine survey, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada has erected bat gates at two mine sites.
A number of parks have also conducted surveys or studies of their bat populations, including California's Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Channel Islands National Parks, and Golden Gate National Recreational Area; Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona; Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado; and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.
Some of these surveys will eventually lead to the protective gating of caves or mines.
Yosemite's bats have been the focus of study for the past three years, including two elusive cliff-dwelling bats: western mastiff bats (Eumops perotis) and spotted bats (Euderma maculatum). Both are candidates for endangered or threatened species listing. And at Point Reyes National
Seashore in California, two nursery colonies of big-eared bats roosting in old buildings have been the subject of a long-term study with help from park biologists.
Many other national parklands have significant bat populations as well: Bandelier and El Malpais National Monuments in New Mexico; Lava Beds National Monument, California; and Organ Pipe and Coronado National Monuments in Arizona, to name a few. The free-tailed bat colony at Bandelier has also been the subject of a multi-year study. Lava Beds is home to the largest known populations of both free-tailed bats and big-eared bats in California, and the park is committed to learning more about their bats and to protecting them. Both species are the subject of ongoing studies.
If your favorite national park isn't mentioned as a benefactor of bats, ask next time you visit what they are doing to protect their bats and to educate visitors about them. If the answer is "not much," let them know how important bats are to you as a park visitor and how important bats are for healthy park ecosystems. And remember to congratulate the parks that are doing something.
Some of our most spectacular lands (and best bat habitat) are in national parks. Yosemite National Park in California has been supporting a study of its bats for the past three years.