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How To Get Involved
For information on volunteering with Bats, contact:
Heather M Kaarakka
Conservation Biologist


In general, bat populations are susceptible to decline because of low reproductive rates and many species congregate at a limited number of locations during critical stages of their natural history cycle (i.e. hibernacula and maternity colonies). Lack of information on basic ecology and trends is one of the greatest limitations to the conservation of bat species. With the growing threat of white-nose syndrome, this information is critical to obtain for baseline population and distribution studies and to evaluate species status as the disease spreads. Trained citizens are playing a key role in gathering statewide inventory and monitoring data through the following programs.

Bat Roost Monitoring

Kent Borcherding checking bat houses.
Kent Borcherding (citizen naturalist) checking bat houses at Yellow Stone Lake State Park preparing for a nightly emergence count.

During the warmer months, many bats will disperse from their winter hibernacula and congregate into summer, maternity roosts where they give birth and rear their young. These roosts are commonly old buildings or bat boxes that have been built for just this purpose. We are asking citizens to scout out the locations of these roosts and then count the numbers that emerge around sunset during the summer. Volunteers receive a location of a known bat roost in their area and following a simple protocol, conduct a count 1-3 times per season (May-August). Get involved [exit DNR]

Acoustic Monitoring

Paul White with bat detector.
Paul White (DNR acoustic monitoring coordinator) holding bat detector as he conducts a night-time survey for bats.

All bat species in Wisconsin utilize echolocation to detect, pursue and capture insect prey as they orient and navigate through the night sky. These calls are above the range of human hearing, but using a hand-held acoustic system, these calls can be captured and recorded for future analysis. After a training session on how to use the equipment, volunteers are able to conduct night-time land-based walking routes or water-based routes during the spring, summer or fall months when the bats are active.

Project timeline: April 1-Sept 30. Surveys begin at a 1/2hr after sunset and run for at least an hour. Get involved [exit DNR]

Last Revised: Wednesday November 21 2018