Endangered bat species discovered in Upstate
Officials said South Carolina has been home to 14 bat species
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) announced that an endangered bat species has been discovered in South Carolina.
According to SCDNR officials, South Carolina has been home to fourteen bat species, but scientists found the first gray bat (Myotis grisescens) in South Carolina roosting in a crevice on the underside of a bridge in Greenville County.
“The recorded range of the gray bat has always skirted the edges of South Carolina, with counties bordering the state from Georgia and North Carolina in the Blue Ridge ecoregion,” said Jennifer Kindel, SCDNR state bat biologist in a release. “Without a record of this species in the state it was difficult for biologists to obtain funding for systematic surveys, but now we hope to learn more.”
Kindel had been in touch with bat biologists in North Carolina who had been finding gray bats miles away from the North Carolina/South Carolina border for the past few years.
Kindel and her wildlife technicians attempted to net a 100-foot bridge where gray bat calls had been recorded, but they were not having any luck. However, in mid-August, her and Helle Cavalieri--her lead bat technician-- found the first gray bat when they expanded the search to shorter bridges for easier survey access.
Officials said a week later, Kindel and Mary Bunch, a retired heritage preserve manager and biologist specializing in bats and other small mammals, found the first record of a gray bat in Oconee County.
Right now, a total of four gray bats were ultimately recorded.
These bats are listed as a federal endangered species. Kindel said the gray bat has recovered from predicted extinction since being placed on the endangered species list, but populations are still at risk due to gathering in very large numbers in only a few caves.
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