With a deadly bat disease-causing fungus recently discovered in nearby Iowa, wildlife officials in Wisconsin are making extra efforts to monitor bat populations in the Badger State.
That includes enlisting the help of citizen volunteers.
Ephraim's Kate Houston, a nature photographer and self-proclaimed bat-lover, says she attended a DNR-sponsored training session in April at Peninsula State Park to learn more about the process, including how to use a high-tech bat-monitoring device called an AnaBat.
"I was hooked," says Houston, who says each bat's call sounds different and each bat sends out a variety of calls depending on what it's doing. She says when a bat is hunting for insects it makes a series of calls of a particular frequency -- what she calls "search and destroy" mode...
Houston says the AnaBat, with the help of an attached PDA, converts bat sounds into frequencies humans can hear and also shows the audio in a visual display. An internal GPS marks the geographic location of where the sounds were captured.
She says her first stab at using the AnaBat on her own was in late April when she monitored activity along North Shore Road in Ephraim -- and it was an overwhelming success. She says she ended up finding six of the seven bat types found in Wisconsin, a feat that prompted a congratulatory email from the DNR's Paul White...
"The exciting thing for me was to see a printout of a map of North Shore Road and the edges of Eagle Harbor with all the bats that the device picked up and where they were located."
Listen (and look for) for more bat-related stories in the coming days, including news about a unique project being undertaken at Peninsula State Park.
For more information on Wisconsin's bat monitoring program and White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) click here.