By: Danielle O’Dell, Ecologist/Field Supervisor
This may not be the time of year that you would typically think would be great for finding bats but we are hopeful that we might get a few reports from the Nantucket community! During the winter, Northern long-eared bats hibernate. In other parts of the Northeast, they are known to hibernate in caves or mines that have consistent, cold temperatures and high humidity. On Nantucket, we have neither of these structures, so we believe that our bats hibernate in the closest thing we have to a cave or mine such as cinder block basements or crawlspaces, particularly ones with earth floors.
Last winter in March of 2019, we received a call from a homeowner doing a renovation on their house. When they removed the flooring, they found three Northern long-eared bats huddled together inside a cinder block that made up part of the foundation of the home. We know of one other home with a crawlspace that contains hibernating bats. We know there must be more homes out there. Finding winter hibernacula will provide critical information for this species as Nantucket is one of the only places in the state of Massachusetts with persisting populations of this endangered species. We are the only population that we know of that is free of White-nose Syndrome – a disease that effects bats while they hibernate and has caused the death of 90-99% of Northern long-eared bats in the Northeast. This species is now considered “high-risk” for extinction due to this devastating disease.
For now, Nantucket bats are healthy and we are hopeful that they remain this way. It’s critical for us to learn as much about where they are spending the winter in order to understand what factors are contributing to their continued health. Please spread the word that we are seeking reports of bats in homes – particularly among builders, carpenters, roofers, masons, chimney inspectors, homeowner’s doing renovations, the neighbor you hired to clean out your crawlspace! If bats are found while doing work on a house, please call us immediately! We can help to remove the bats or give advice on how to avoid disturbing them further while they hibernate.
If you find bats in your home at any time of year, but particularly in the winter, please call or email us! firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 228-2884.
The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust that depends on contributions from our members to support our science projects, conservation property acquisitions and land management efforts. If you are not already a member, please join us now! www.nantucketconservation.org