Monitoring Alaskan Bats in the Tongass National Forest

The sun has finally set in Ketchikan, located around 300 miles south of Juneau, Alaska. Engines rumble as volunteers begin their journey deep into the Tongass National Forest. Equipped with a bat detector and a specialized microphone on the roof of their car, the volunteers traverse a 30-mile stretch at 20 miles per hour in the hope of recording bat calls, which will help determine where they roost, migrate, and hibernate.

Bats do not make it easy to study bats

For decades, bats have defied scientists’ best ideas for keeping track of individuals, which is crucial to wildlife research. Banding (either legs or forearms) can result in injury, and banded bats are seldom recaptured anyway. Tattoos take too long. Holes punched in their wings are only visible for 5 months. Electronic tags have to be close to a reading device to work.

Wanted: Bat champions for Oct. 29 webcast to help celebrate National Bat Week Oct. 26-Nov. 1

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