Tracking the Last 1% of New Jersey’s Northern Long Eared Bats

We’re Making Progress, One Bat at a Time

EarthColor’s continued support of one of New Jersey’s tiniest residents is paying off. Our partnership with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) embodies our commitment to protect and preserve the forests and ecosystems of our planet. By focusing on one small species, the federally declared threatened Northern long-eared bat, we hope to gain more insight on how to protect them and New Jersey’s woodlands.

In its second year, CWF’s Northern long-eared bat study turned its attention to two areas where there were data gaps – southern and coastal New Jersey. Anecdotally scientists have learned that Atlantic White Cedar swamps are important habitat sites for these bats. Through our two years of working on this project our team has learned this is correct. Previously, little work has been done to understand bat populations in southern NJ, which is why we focused our efforts there this year, to fill in those gaps (especially where Atlantic White Cedar swamps are). We also focused some efforts in coastal NJ, in the hopes that we might be able to gain extra protection for bats caught due to NJ CAFRA zoning laws.

This summer, 11 volunteers working with CWF and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife completed 10 catch-and-release netting nights at 8 different locations, followed by six days of radio tracking. Although only two of the 52 total bats netted and tracked were Northern long-eared bats (11 were Eastern red bats, 38 were big brown bats), the resulting data was important for the overall study. The first bat was tracked to one roost tree the first day/night of tracking. Then the following day the transmitter was tracked to a second location but she had dropped the transmitter. The second bat was tracked to a roost tree but she dropped the transmitter in that first roost tree.

Netting and tracking efforts in this study are limited to a short time period from early June through mid-August. Bats hibernate in winter, returning to this area in April and May to give birth to their pups. They begin foraging and roosting in June before beginning their long journey in August to their hibernacula (winter quarters), sometimes out of state and hundreds of miles away.

According to CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin, “By continuing to collect data on Nothern long-eared bat summer roost habitat in NJ our team has been able to fill data gaps and gain more understanding of their populations in NJ. By continuing our research we are able to dive deeper into our understanding of this species life cycle; also allowing us to narrow down our research to continue to answer the important questions about the best ways to protect them.”

Feigin has been posting preliminary photos and observations from this summer’s work on CWF’s blog and Facebook sites and the full report has been released. She and her staff are currently mapping the various nesting locations pinpointed this year and last to begin identifying important sites in need of further protection. The mapping will also help them plan the site locations and number of netting nights needed next year. CWF is also considering its first fall netting program outside the New Jersey area to learn more about the migration pattern of these tiny bats. EarthColor may be called upon to partner with them in this endeavor.

To learn more about CWFNJ’s bat program as well as other efforts to protect and conserve threatened and endangered wild life in New Jersey, visit their site.  The details of our work with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and other ENGOs are also highlighted in our award winning 2015-2016 Sustainability Report. If you’re interested in receiving a copy, please fill out the form here.

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