Vermont's little brown bats are looking for some friends

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department invites volunteers to come learn about the endangered little brown bat and to help monitor maternity colonies over the summer.

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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is looking for volunteer citizen scientists to count bats in the greater Champlain Valley and a few other sites around the state this summer, and is holding training sessions in Castleton and Ferrisburgh. Long-term monitoring is critical to the management and recovery of endangered little brown bats in Vermont. Volunteers will be matched with monitoring sites after learning about these rare, insect-eating mammals.

The training sessions will be held at Bomoseen State Park, 22 Cedar Mountain Road, Castleton, on June 21 (rain date June 22), and at the Rokeby Museum, 4334 Route 7, Ferrisburgh, on June 27 (rain date June 28). The events start at 7:30 and finish after dusk, around 9:30.Alyssa Bennett, the small mammals biologist at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, will provide a 30-minute presentation about Vermont bats, their natural history and threats, and ways the public can help conserve bats and enhance their habitats. Bennett works mainly on the conservation and recovery of Vermont's nine bat species.

The presentation will be immediately followed by a training for volunteers interested in monitoring colonies of state-endangered little brown bats this summer. Volunteer citizen scientists will learn how to count bats exiting their roosts between sunset and just after dusk. Interested volunteers are then matched with colony sites around the state for periodic monitoring between July 11 and 30.

Amy Dohner from the Ferrisburgh Conservation Commission will be at the Rokeby Museum event to organize local volunteers monitoring bats at Kingsland Bay State Park. She can also be contacted at 802-434-7245.

"Vermont's endangered little brown bats suffered massive population declines of up to 90 percent due to the deadly fungal disease, White-nose Syndrome," Bennett said. "This species depends upon us for their continued survival because of their preference for roosting in buildings and bat houses. Thanks to the help of dedicated citizen scientists who monitor these rare colonies of female bats and their young, we have shown that the remaining population appears to be holding steady in our state."

The talks and trainings are free and open to the public. To find out if an event is cancelled due to weather, please call 802-786-0098 on the day of the event and listen to the recorded message.


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