Bats-n-Bridges plus One Less Dam

You know you love your job when you volunteer to do similar work on your day off.  A couple of days ago, I met up with Dottie Brown (an incredible and inspiring field technician and all around outdoors woman).  She’s working for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.  Her job is to net sites that have previously been netted for bats.  Some of these sites are known for having high activity & I can’t imagine netting them all alone.  So a few of us volunteered to help Dottie out that night, and I’ll admit I did it not only do this to help her but also because I was excited to catch a lot of bats.

Before we went out for the night, I met Dottie in the morning and we went out to document some other known bat roosts. Human-made roosts. The first site we went to was in Dillsborro, North Carolina. Dottie informed me that they had just recently, get this, REMOVED a dam. Can you believe a dam was actually removed from a river, not built?  ONE LESS DAM! Studies are being conducted on the impacts this will have for the fish, the birds, the amphibians, invertebrates, the plant life, the bats, and more.  I’m going to make an educated guess that these will be very positive impacts. The Dillsoborro dam was fragmenting many aquatic populations and the energy company (Duke) wanted to remove it due to its inactivity.  The Tuckaseegee River must feel like it has been unshackled, well for at least that portion of it.  Many of the articles I’ve browsed have focused on how great this will be for humans (i.e. recreational sports, anglers, paddlers, birders, etc.) But hey guess what, this will be excellent for non-humans as well. The Fish & Wildlife actually do a decent job explaining the benefits to wildlife and a summary of the process.

How does this relate to bats? Well, while the dam was in place, it was doing one good thing, providing a home for bats.  Sorry bats, your home was also destroying the homes of others.  Duke Energy provided a few bat houses near the area.  Dottie and I found that the bats were using their new homes, we could hear them chattering and the piles of guano under the houses were also a good sign. Dottie calls this the Duplex Condo, complete with predator guards.

Our next stop was the Big Brown Bat Bridge, where we found hundreds of Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) roosting between the bridge joints in the hot midday sun.  I literally squealed with excitement seeing them all smashed in there together. Rows of bat butts and plump cheeks. Big Brown Bat & Friends

Well for me, you can never see too many bats, after going for a swim in a dammed damned river turned lake, Dottie and I set out to meet others and go netting for bats.  I far surpassed my previous netting record (I’m not quite sure what that was actually).  We caught 70 bats!!! that night, with 4 net sets.  Time flew by as we were constantly untangling bats from the nets and recording data on them.  Thanks for such an awesome experience Dottie!


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