October 27, 2021 |The Conservation Fund | Wildlife

The Conservation Fund

Bats are amazing, but their numbers are declining due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and a deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. Each year during the last week of October, Bat Week celebrates the role of bats in nature. Read more about three places that The Conservation Fund has helped protect that support bat populations in Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Sodalis Nature Preserve

10 28 21 Indiana bats resting inside the mine passages at Sodalis Nature Preserve. Photo by Steve Orr.

When scientists discovered the world’s largest colony of endangered Indiana bats in an abandoned, underground limestone quarry, The Conservation Fund was able to purchase the surrounding 185 acres and create the Sodalis Nature Preserve in partnership with the city of Hannibal, Missouri.

The mine passages at Sodalis provide habitat for at least 168,000 federally endangered Indiana bats (their scientific name is Myotis sodalis, hence the preserve name), which represents one-third of all the Indiana bats known to exist. Other bat species are also known to use the property, including the federally endangered gray bat and federally threatened northern long-eared bat.

10 28 21 Hannibal Missouri After Shot Steve Orr 244Gates allow bats free passage to the mines, while keeping humans out. Photo by Steve Orr.

Skinner Mountain Forest

10 28 21 CORA colony Skinner WMA 2A colony of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. Photo by Daniel Istvanko.

Skinner Mountain Forest provides critical habitat for several species of bats considered to be of greatest conservation need and protected through a federal or state listing. There are more than 50 caves within the entire 14,000+ acre Skinner Mountain Forest property alone, including the Mountain Eye cave system. Fentress County—where Skinner Mountain is located—happens to have the most caves where the critically imperiled Indiana bats hibernate.

10 28 21 MYLU Skinner WMA10 28 21 PESULittle brown bat (left) and tri-colored bat (right). Photos by Daniel Istvanko.

In this biodiversity hotspot in northeastern Tennessee, biologists have observed the Indiana bat, the gray bat, and the Northern long-eared bat. They’ve also found tri-colored bats and little brown bats, as well as Rafinesque’s big-eared bats and eastern small-footed bats. In summertime you can also observe more common species such as the big brown bat and the eastern red bat.

Foushee Cave and Slippery Hollow Natural Areas

10 28 21 northern long earred bat c USFWSNorthern long-eared bat. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) has acquired and protected land in northern Arkansas to directly benefit the habitats for both federally endangered and threatened species of bats. ANHC added 400 acres to the Foushee Cave Natural Area that provide excellent foraging habitat for the federally endangered gray and Indiana bats and federally threatened northern long-eared bat. An additional 100 acres protected at the Slippery Hollow Natural Area supports populations of federally endangered Ozark big-eared bats, as well as northern long-eared and gray bats.

Written by

The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres of land.