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Something Wild: New Hampshire's Bat Habitats

Samuel Taylor
Samuel Taylor is a forester with the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands. He spent time in Carroll County last summer setting up acoustic sampling equipment to listen for bats.

By the time the cold weather months hit us,  three of New Hampshire’s eight species of bats have already migrated to warmer places in the South and Mid-Atlantic regions. 

The bat that DO overwinter in New Hampshire have relocated out of their preferred summer roosts in trees (and Dave's chimney), and into winter hibernacula like caves, mine shafts, and abandoned military  bunkers where the microclimate is just right.

These cozy shelters provide stable temperatures, higher humidity, and protection from predators. But they also provide the perfect climate for Psedogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome in bats.  

Credit USFWS HEADQUARTERS / FLIKR CREATIVE COMMONS
Bats in New Hampshire have been struggling with White Nose Syndrome for over a decade.

According to Sandi Houghton, a wildlife biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game / Non-game and Endangered Wildlife Division, as many as 99% of New Hampshire’s little brown bats were wiped out because of this fungus-- found in the very places bats take winter refuge.

In fact most of what’s left of the little brown bat population in New Hampshire may be individuals that migrate out of the state in the fall.

The good news? Bats that migrate to other states in the winter do come back to New Hampshire during the warmer months. 

Which is why it’s more important than ever to ensure bats’ summer roosting sites here in the Granite State stay intact. Forest managers now work to reduce negative impacts to these already stressed species by figuring out WHERE these bats are within New Hampshire forests-- especially so that female bats can safely give birth and raise pups in maternal colonies.

Samuel Taylor is a forester with the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands. Part of his seasonal summer projects include setting up acoustic sampling equipment to listen for bats in the woods.

Credit Samuel Taylor
Acoustic sampling equipment is used to record bat activity in Carroll County. It consists of a microphone secured to the end of an extendable painter's pole, that is either taped or tied to a tree.

The audio samples collected are then analyzed using software that can tell whether there are bats roosting in the surrounding trees, and can tell bat biologists and foresters what kind of bats are in the area.

If species of particular concern are detected (most epsecially the northern longeared bat and the eastern small-footed bat), then forest managers can delay summer tree harvest until the pups have matured and dispersed.

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If you'd like to learn more about how you can help monitor NH's bat populations:

https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/nongame/bats-nh.html

Bat Survey of Roost Sites:  

https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/bats.html

Something Wild is a joint production of NH Audubon, The Society for the Protection of NH Forests and NHPR.  

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.
Chris Martin has worked for New Hampshire Audubon for over 31 years as a Conservation Biologist, specializing in birds of prey such as Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and Peregrine Falcons.
Before becoming Program Director, Quirk served as NHPR's production manager. During that time she's voiced and crafted the 'sound of the station,' coordinated countless on-air fundraisers, produced segments for Give Back NH, Something Wild, New Hampshire Calling, and developed NHPR's own NHPR Music vertical with features such as Live from Studio D, and long-loved favorites like Holidays By Request.
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