FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2023
Steamboat Springs, Colo. – Today is International Bat Appreciation Day, a day to celebrate the benefits bats bring to the health of our communities, our ecosystems and our crops. Join Colorado Bat Watch, a new community science initiative to study and conserve bats, and learn how you can help bats right here in Colorado.
“We are celebrating bats today because they eat insects and control pests that harm crops, damage forests, and transmit diseases,” said Paige Singer, Conservation Ecologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. You can help bats in Colorado by learning how to do sunset and sunrise surveys and share your observations of bats with Colorado Bat Watch.”
Unfortunately, bats are declining in parts of North America. White-nose syndrome, a pathogen that has killed millions of bats in the eastern and midwestern U.S. since 2006, was detected in Colorado for the first time in summer of 2022.
“To help bats survive white-nose syndrome, biologists need to know where bats are roosting. Roost sites provide a safe place for bats to mate, raise their young, and hibernate,” said Megan Mueller, Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. “You can help us find out where bats are roosting, by sharing your observations of bats with Colorado Bat Watch.”
“Doing a sunset survey for bats is a fun way to spend an evening outside, and it’s exciting when you find bats and get to watch them fly off into the sunset,” said Wyatt Ortega, Colorado Bat Watch volunteer. “It also feels great to get involved and help bats.”
“Researchers are racing to test vaccines that could help bats survive white-nose syndrome,” said Mueller. “It may be possible to apply vaccines to bats at roost sites, but we need help with finding roost sites.”
It only takes 15 minutes to learn how to spot bats and report your bat observations to Colorado Bat Watch. You can participate anywhere in Colorado, anytime between May and September. Learn how to spot roosting bats and report your bat observations to Colorado Bat Watch at www.coloradobatwatch.org. For fun, you can also take our ‘What kind of Bat Are You?’ quiz, meet Colorado’s bats, or learn easy steps to attract bats to your backyard.
Background: Colorado Bat Watch is a collaborative effort to study and conserve bats, developed by Rocky Mountain Wild, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, and bat experts from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and the North American Bat Monitoring Program. Colorado Bat Watch Community Scientists will collect data on where bats are roosting that will inform multi-agency efforts to respond to the arrival of WNS in Colorado, including efforts to find bat colonies, test for the presence of WNS, monitor bats, and identify roost sites suitable for WNS vaccine testing.