Bat Country: Gate Installed at Northern NH Mine to Protect Hibernating Bats
CONCORD — Officials have installed a gate at a North Country mine known for housing endangered bats as they hibernate for the winter.
New Hampshire Fish and Game said their Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program installed the gate because disturbances during the winter can cause bats to wake from hibernation and deplete their limited fat stores at a time when food is unavailable.
Officials said little brown bats, which are state-endangered, and northern long-eared bats, which are federally threatened and state-endangered, have been documented at the mine during the winter.
Fish and Game said it's important to protect New Hampshire's bats because they have been suffering from extremely high mortality rates since White Nose Syndrome was first documented in the Granite State in 2009. They said that little brown bats, previously the most numerous bats in the Northeast, continue to sustain the largest number of deaths.
Northern long-eared bat populations also have been decimated by WNS, which is caused by a fungus that grows into the skin of the bat’s wing, damaging the skin, muscles, and blood vessels. There is currently no treatment for WNS.
Fish and Game Officials said that bats are the single greatest predator of night-flying insects, eating about half their body weight or more in insects every night during the summer. Their diet may include agricultural pests, forest pests, and mosquitoes.
This project is part of a northeast regional initiative funded by a Regional Conservation Need Grant, with matching funds from the "Moose Plate" Conservation License Plate Program. Gates to protect bats are also being installed in Connecticut and New Jersey.