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September 22nd, 2018
By Pam Barber
This summer, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Management launched the SC Bat Watch project to encourage the public’s help in gathering information about South Carolina bat populations. SC Bat Watch is a citizen science project to monitor bat roost sites and provide bat count data to SCDNR biologists.
To participate in SC Bat Watch training, a group of us gathered one summer evening at Sunrift Adventures in Travelers Rest, where bat boxes are hung on the building’s exterior. At a precise time, known only to the bats, we heard the swell of bat song followed by hundreds of bats fluttering out of the bat boxes like rushing water, flying over our heads.
Our attempts at counting them were certainly wild guesses at best because there were so many and they flew so fast! And then just as quickly as they came, they disappeared into the night sky.
That night those bats foraged on beetles and other insects, controlling populations of insects that feed on native and crop plants and transmit disease. Bats in SC can consume 15 mosquitoes in 60 seconds!
Later that night in the dawn hours they would return to their bat boxes, huddle inside together hanging upside down by a toe until the next day’s dusk. We all left that evening pretty amazed by the experience.
SC bat populations need our help. Of the fourteen species of bats in our state, eleven are species of greatest conservation need. SCDNR needs data to determine the effects of habitat loss, and the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome, on bat populations.
If you’d like to take part in this important citizen science project, or if you’re a landowner interested in installing bat boxes on your property, check out this link for more information.
For more information, contact Pam Barber, Land Stewardship Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.