Scientists at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg are scrambling to stop two types of bats that live on the base from becoming endangered.
But it’s not entirely out of the goodness of their hearts — they admit that they do not want to deal with the hassle of having a listed endangered species in their midst. They already have to work around two endangered animals and three plant species on the base, and they don’t want to add two more.
The base is home to 10 species of bats, two of which could easily make the endangered species list: Rafinesque’s big-eared bats and southeastern bats. But these species are a small fraction of the vast array of wildlife that have settled on the base.
“As people have expanded and habitat has been lost, military bases have become wildlife refuges by default,” said Janice Patten, a wildlife biologist at Fort Bragg. “The soldiers need large tracts of forested areas where they can train.”
To track the bats, scientists head out at night with listening equipment to track the bats’ echolocation, giving them an idea of the bats’ populations. They also catch and release bats when possible to tag them and attach transmitter devices, which ideally will lead the scientists to the bats’ roosts.
With the help of Bat Conservation International and the US Fish and WIldlife Service, the base hopes to establish a conservation plan for the species soon.
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