In response to the recent arrival of white-nose syndrome (WNS) to Washington, the Alaska Center for Conservation Science initiated a bat maternity roost monitoring program during the summer of 2016. WNS is a disease that affects small, hibernating bat species during winter, and has a 90% mortality rate for infected little brown myotis (the only bat species present in interior Alaska) colonies. It is currently present in 27 states and 5 Canadian provinces in eastern North America, has killed over 6 million bats to date. Since we do not have a good understanding of where bats in interior Alaska roost during winter, it is not possible to monitor winter hibernacula for the arrival of WNS. However, since female bats return to the same roost each summer, investigating and monitoring populations at these roost sites is the next best alternative.
During July 2016, with the help of local residents, we located and surveyed six little brown myotis maternity roosts along the Copper River. For summer 2017, we are planning on expanding our study to include maternity roosts around the Fairbanks and Tanana River areas. To see the network of current maternity roosts being monitored, click on the “Current Network” link below. If you know of a bat maternity roost and would like to help with our study during the 2017 season, please click on the “Sign Up for Network” link below.
For more information on white-nose syndrome please visit https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org.