Thursday, April 9, 2009

Help the Bats!

Okay, bat fans, here's your chance to help New York's bats!

Carl Herzog is one of the DEC's biologists working on the whole White-nose Syndrom problem. I went to a talk he gave last spring about WNS and left my name as a contact should any volunteers be needed to help out with anything batty. Today I received an email from him looking for volunteers. If you are interested, here's what Carl sent me:

Here's a very quick overview of the project:

You probably already know about the White-nose problem for the bats. It affects bats that spend the winter in caves and mines and this study will help us keep track of them. NY also has three other species that fly south for the winter. Unfortunately, these three are the ones that get killed regularly at wind turbine sites. Another goal of this study is to determine if these losses to the migratory bats will have an affect on their populations.

When bats fly, they emit high frequency sounds that we can detect with special equipment. Most of the time we can tell which species made the sound. Our plan is to attach this equipment to the roof of a car and drive pre-planned routes, recording the bat calls we encounter. Each car requires two people, a driver and a navigator/equipment operator. We are looking for volunteers from all across the state to fill these two roles.

Between training, preparation, driving the route, and submitting the data, total time commitment can be as short as 3-4 hours. Some folks will want to do more and we can definitely use the help. The routes take about an hour to drive and will be run shortly after sunset during June. The attached map shows how the routes are distributed.

Requirements to participate and not stringent. A team of two obviously needs at least one licensed driver. Use of the equipment requires some basic knowledge of Windows-based computers: following software installation instructions, saving and copying files, etc. The equipment itself is actually pretty easy to operate and we can teach participants all of the details.
We will supply all of the specialized equipment and software, of course, but we are hoping that most of the volunteers already have access to a laptop computer that can be used. Most any laptop manufactured in the last 5 years will work. If you don't have access to a computer, we can probably match you up with someone who does. We also have a few that we can loan out.

That's probably enough information for now. Do you think you might be able to identify folks who could help out with this?


State Wildlife Grants Biologist

NY State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 BroadwayAlbany, NY 12233
Office: 518-402-8908 Cell: 518-461-4582
fax: 518-402-8925

This is the map of the routes. Is there one near you?

If you are still interested in helping out, you can either contact me or Carl.

1 comment:

  1. Carl's notes to you remind me of the long-running Breeding Bird Survey. In Pa. alone, there are some 0 BBS routes. What BBS participants do, basically, is drive a 25r-mile pre-set route, stopping every half-mile (right at dawn) and counting, for three minutes, every bird heard or seen, and then recording the data on computerized data-collection sheets (sent each spring to participants by the U.S. Geological Survey folks). I first ran a BBS route in north-central Pa. more than 15 years ago, and will be running the route (which starts near the town of Wellsboro). My wife and I got our start in birding while living on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base near Lake Champlain in the late 80s. We participated in ADK birding workshops at Heart Lake. Good luck with the bat work. Used to see little brown bats at dusk here in northeastern Pa. but not now. WNS has taken its toll.