To the Bat Pole…!

CARRIE MORROW
Assistant Resource Manager

A METRO PARKS RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SUCCESS STORY

Every year, Metro Parks staff and volunteers return to the bat roosts installed at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park to see if our maternity colony of Indiana bats has returned. We always hope that the white nose syndrome didn’t affect them during hibernation.

One of the five bat poles installed at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, with the artificial bark at the top. Photo, Carrie Morrow

THE BAT POLES
In 2014 we installed five poles with artificial bark to mimic a dead tree with sloughing bark. Bats roost under the loose bark. There are typically dozens of trees in a colony’s community. We added the poles to provide consistent habitat to support the bat colony.

We began monitoring these bats after a few were captured during a survey Metro Parks conducted in 2006. And we were able to track them to the first roost we discovered, a large, dead cottonwood tree. The tree had been girdled by a beaver. Several trees in the area were in different stages of life due to the beavers’ activities. This made the floodplain area a perfect home for the bats with a variety of tree roosts to choose from!

And on a warm evening in late May, we were able to see bats using four of the five roosts! Almost 100 bats were observed and we believe they were all the same species, Indiana bats. The monitors just had to sit under each roost and wait for sunset and the bats to come out for their evening feeding.

Another successful hibernation and the beginning of another breeding season is upon us! We will continue to monitor these roosts and other bat boxes that we have in many of our parks!

Indiana bats hibernating. Photo Jim Kennedy