Volunteers us sonar to 'hear' and track bats for the DNRSubmitted: 06/27/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

MANITOWISH WATERS - Farmers and anyone who hates mosquitos should be VERY thankful for bats. The journal ‘Science' estimates they provide US farmers with 3.7 billion dollars in pest control.

In nearby states though a fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome is killing them by the thousands. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working on a plan for our bat population, but first they have to find them.

Bats are small, hard to see, and mostly silent to the human ear. However, with special sonar equipment we can hear them, and track them. The DNR wants to use this technology to study Wisconsin's four bat species most at risk.

"Those are the hibernating bats and those are the bats that are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome because it is a cold loving fungus that attacks and gets the bats during hibernation," said Licia Johnson with the North Lakeland Discovery Center, "Some do leave the state and go down to Illinois to hibernate where there has been White Nose Syndrome found in caves."

North Lakeland Discover Center has trained 80 volunteers so far to use sonar equipment to track bats. All the information they gather goes to the DNR's database.

"If we ever were to have an issue with our bat population, white nose syndrome infecting our bats and getting a large amount we would know baseline information of how many bats we had where they were located throughout the state, so if there ever was a reintroduction program necessary they would have that information."

For more information about the North Lakeland Discovery Center or the bat monitoring program, click the links below.

Related Weblinks:
North Lakeland Discovery Center
Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program

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