Blitz At Black Rock Mountain Will Boost Understanding Of Bats

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The night life around Black Rock Mountain State Park will keep researchers from across the state busy Sept. 4-7.

It is all part of the Georgia Bat Working Group’s first Bat Blitz.

The event based at the park in northeast Georgia’s Rabun County is focused on better understanding the area’s bat communities. But there is an even bigger picture. Organizer Trina Morris said the timing syncs with other blitzes in the eastern U.S. as part of a Southeastern Bat Diversity Network ( effort to gather data after the summer survey season ends and before bats start migrating.

This focus reflects the continued spread of white-nose syndrome – a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in the U.S. and has been found in Georgia – and a federal decision expected next year that could list northern long-eared bats as endangered.

“This bat blitz will provide a great opportunity for volunteers to sample many sites in a short amount of time,” said Ms. Morris, who leads bat research for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section. “The information we collect is very valuable to increase our overall knowledge of bats in northeast Georgia.”

The public can learn about bat conservation and see how researchers survey bats during a talk that Morris will lead. The presentation starts at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5, at the park’s amphitheater ($5 parking fee).

For the blitz, scientists, students and volunteers will fan out across state and federal lands within an hour’s drive of Black Rock Mountain.

The Georgia Bat Working Group ( is a partnership aimed at ensuring the long-term health of Georgia’s bat populations. The group has representatives from federal, state and private agencies, and includes people from across the state. The hope is the blitz becomes an annual event.

Georgia is home to 16 bat species. All seek a sheltered roost during the day and emerge at night to eat flying insects such as moths, mosquitoes and beetles. Some species, such as the Southeastern myotis and gray bats, depend on caves for roosting. Others, such as big brown bats and evening bats, are more adaptable and use hollow trees and buildings. Red bats and Seminole bats conceal themselves in foliage.

Small insectivorous bats like those found in Georgia can eat more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. Other species around the world serve important roles as pollinators of crops.

But bats face increasing threats, varying from habitat loss to white-nose syndrome, documented in Georgia in 2013 and this year in Rabun County. White-nose is cited as a factor in northern long-eared bat population declines estimated at to 99 percent in the Northeast. The species also lives in Georgia.

Bat-to-bat transmission – often through migrating bats – is considered a primary way in which the fungus linked to white-nose is spread. Some bats that spend summers at roost sites in Georgia move to cave hibernacula in other states for the winter.

Tellico Hatchery Announces Winter Hours

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced winter hours for the Tellico Hatchery in Tellico Plains. Holidays along with hours of daylight and alterations in operations are the primary reasons for changes. Fish eat less during colder months. This reason, along with a reduction of seasonal responsibilities such as mowing grass and hatchery upkeep, means fewer people on staff. ... (click for more)

Wildlife Officer Pete Geesling Honored In Veterans Day Observance Ceremony

Brandon “Pete” Geesling, a wildlife officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Warren County, was one of five veteran state employees recognized during a Veterans Day observance event held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza.     Previously, Mr. Geesling served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a combat engineer which included a deployment ... (click for more)

Woman, 61, Charged in Chattanooga With Promoting Prostitution After TBI Human Trafficking Probe

A joint investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit and deputies with the Madison County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office has resulted in the arrest of a Chattanooga woman on a charge of promoting prostitution. As the result of an ongoing two-year Human Trafficking investigation, TBI Special Agents, with the assistance of the ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Republican Predictions Were Right That “Obamacare Was Historic Mistake”

Five and a half years after the White House health care summit at Blair House, Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Tuesday spoke on the Senate floor to discuss what he said Republicans warned the president would happen if Obamacare became law – and to outline what this “historic mistake” of a law looks like for millions of Americans today. Senator Alexander ... (click for more)

City Council, Please Reconsider On The 7-Story Apartment Variance - And Response

I would like to thank the Regional Planning Commission and the Regional Planning Agency   for denying the recent application for a variance from the current zoning requirements in place for the 1200 block of Cowart Street. The developers want to build a 7-story parking deck with 141 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments wrapped around three sides in an area with a 48' height ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In December

As the fallen leaves confirm today is the first of December, my monthly walk in life’s garden is more foggy than fun. In much-older times, good children would get a piece of candy on Christmas Day while bad ones would receive a lump of coal. So here are some things that deserve a helping of both: A PIECE OF CANDY to the amazingly few who can spy a nest of mistletoe high in area ... (click for more)