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SAVE OUr Bats

We're calling on you to become a Bat Advocate and help us save bats across the country from deadly white-nose syndrome. Visit our new Save Our Bats website now.

SAVING THE INDIANA BAT

Every fall, Indiana bats gather in swarms at chosen hibernating spots to mate, swooping in and out of caves from dusk till dawn. Some humans might find this a frightening sight, but in fact bats are shy, sensitive, and vulnerable animals — and the Indiana bat is one of the rarest and most sensitive of its kind. The species’ long-term decline began in the early 1800s as its wintering sites (hibernacula) were disturbed by mining, tourism, and other activities. In the decades since, these bats have been hit hard by habitat loss, and in 2007 a perplexing and deadly new threat to bats, called white-nose syndrome, first appeared in the Northeast and began killing hundreds of thousands of bats, including this federally listed species. If this species’ habitat is not better protected from the numerous factors that threaten it, and if white-nose syndrome continues to decimate bat populations and keeps spreading, it’s quite possible that we’ll witness the extinction of the Indiana bat.

In recognition of Indiana bats’ declining status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as endangered in 1967. Closure of caves and other protective measures for hibernacula have been crucial to Indiana bat recovery. But today, white-nose syndrome has precipitated a deadly dive in Indiana bat numbers in the eastern United States.

With so many Indiana bats dying from white-nose syndrome, it’s imperative that other threats to the species are minimized — and the Center has been instrumental in the substantial progress recently made on this issue. More than a year after our January 2008 request to protect bats by closing caves and other hibernacula, the Forest Service closed to the public all caves and abandoned mines in 33 eastern and southern states to help stop the spread of white-nose syndrome. In 2009, after we joined with allies to file a protest against a plan to auction off oil and gas leases in a portion of West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest — just a few miles away from a major hibernating site for Virginia big-eared and Indiana bats — the Bureau withdrew the area from the lease sale. In May of 2009, we joined 60 allies in writing a letter to members of Congress requesting more funds be allocated to fighting white-nose syndrome, which currently constitutes the most serious threat to this species.

 

KEY DOCUMENTS
2010 Petition to close caves and limit harm to bats
2009 Letter to Fish and Wildlife Service on white-nose syndrome
2009 Letter to Congress on white-nose syndrome
2009 White-nose syndrome fact sheet
2008 Center letter requesting bat hibernaculum closure
2008 Petition to re-evaluate federal projects to protect bats
2007 Draft federal recovery plan
1976 Critical habitat designation
1967 Federal Endangered Species Act listing

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE

ACTION TIMELINE

NATURAL HISTORY

MEDIA
Press releases
Media highlights
Search our newsroom for the Indiana bat

RELATED ISSUES
Bat Crisis: White-nose Syndrome
The Endangered Species Act

Contact: Mollie Matteson

Photo by Adam Mann, Environmental Solutions and Innovations