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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2023 812 Magazine

Myotis sodalis, Indiana Bat

Endangered winged beast speaks through Indiana State Univeristy Bat Center Director Joy O'Keefe to tell us of their plight.

Known to scientists as Myotis sodalis, and listed on the Federal Register as "endangered throughout its range" since March 11, 1967, the Indiana bat is the reason why I-69 will not resume construction until after September 30.

We need our homes just like any species.

Each mating season between April 1st and September 30th, our mothers return to the same area to roost, but not always to the same tree. In these maternity colonies, our mothers give birth to our children under loose bark of great, old trees. We have a number of primary roost trees where most of our females will congregate, but an even larger number of secondary trees are where some of us will be in the meantime.

I-69 isn't our only fear.

I-69 is a danger to us because it cuts through our summer homes, which are vital roosting locations, making sure our species goes on. The greatest danger we face is the plague called White Nose Syndrome. It's caused the deaths of at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million of my kin in North America since 2006. Scientists believe the fungus to be Geomyces destructans, which gathers around our muzzles and on our wings during hibernation. It has attacked us in 115 caves and mines throughout Northeastern US, as far south as North Carolina and west to Missouri and into four Canadian provinces. There is no obvious treatment or means of preventing transmission.

Our biggest predator is humans.

Our natural enemies are little worry to us, compared to damage to our homes and mortality by humans, especially during hibernation. People in caves can wake us from hibernation, leading us to waste vital energy. By waking us and using greater amounts of energy stores, humans cause high mortality in our cave colonies. Human disturbance and their degradation of our homes are the primary causes for our decline.

Here's what's needed to bring our species off the Endangered Species List according to the DNR:

1. Protected and managed hibernation habitats and winter populations.

2. Protected and managed summer habitat to maximize survival and fertility.

3. Planned research into essential recovery.

4. Developed public information and outreach programs.