The gray bat is only 3 or 4 inches long and can weigh anywhere between 7 and 16 grams. They’re distinguished by having all one colored fur. There are approximately 2 million left. They live in caves year-round; in the winter they hibernate, and in the summer they will live in caves near rivers. The gray bat lives in southeastern USA — mostly in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.
Since Gray Bats feed on insects — primarily mayflies, if they were extinct the population of mayflies would rise. I personally hate mayflies, so I am thankful for gray bats. One article explained it as the checks and balances of nature, that the gray bats are controllers of night-flying insect populations.
Humans interact with caves very often, making the gray bats susceptible to habitat damage. Caves are commercialized and used for plenty of entertainment, and it is harmful to the bats. The caves are also being flooded and submerged by reservoirs.
Conservation efforts: government-protected caves, studies on reasons for population decline, 4 protected summer saves with proof of successful efforts for population growth.
There is a geospatial tool called the Anabat II that geographers use to detect colonies of bats. It is also used to sample bat colonies and patterns on a micro-habitat level.
How you can help:
- Learn about the gray bats and their needs to survive.
- Understand how destroying their habitats affect the bat’s population.
- Do not go on cave tours, and if you do, please don’t do anything destructive. Look and observe and use it as a learning experience, not as an excuse to destroy nature and contribute to the decline of this bat.
- Write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or a local state service, to learn more about endangered species and how you can contribute.
- Stop using pesticides. This is shown to harm the Gray Bats, so using clean/natural products will help the species thrive.
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