2017 Bat Blitz Summary

Host/Location:  Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s (SBDN) 16th Annual Bat Blitz was hosted by Mammoth Cave National Park (MACA) in south-central Kentucky from July 23rd to July 27th, 2017. Thirty-four participants from across the southeast, assisted by seven local host members, conducted an intensive three-night bat inventory at 25 sites on the park. Bats were captured at 23 of the 25 sites. Mist nets were used at all sites, however harp traps were used at two cave entrances with multiple bat species. The volunteers captured a total of 603 individual bats from 12 different species, including the federally-listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), gray bat (M. grisescens) and northern long-eared bat (M. septentrionalis).

162  Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

89    Gray bat (Myotis grisescens)

88    Evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis)

71    Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii)

67    Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis)

55    Indiana bat (M. sodalis)

45    Eastern small-footed bat (M. leibii)

11    Tricolored (Eastern Pipistrelle) bat (Perimyotis subflavus)

7      Little brown bat (M. lucifugus)

4      Seminole bat (L. seminolus)

2      Northern long-eared bat (M. septentrionalis)

1      Hoary bat (L. cinereus)

1     Unidentified

603 Total Individuals Captured

The data collected during this SBDN bat blitz provide a contrast to the results from an intensive summer bat inventory conducted at MACA in 2004/05 prior to the arrival of the devastating bat disease white-nose syndrome. For example, during the earlier inventory, the 1st, 4th and 6th most-frequently captured species were the northern long-eared bat, tricolored (Eastern Pipistrelle) bat and little brown bat, respectively. While, the 10th most-frequently captured species in 2004/05 was the evening bat. Similar shifts in species frequency distribution have been observed in recent summer bat research on the park.

Hair and non-lethal tissue samples were collected during the 2017 bat blitz in support of genetic research projects on gray and Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. The first eastern small-footed bat maternity colony at MACA was documented during the blitz, as well as the first placement of radio transmitters on post-lactating females of this species.


The bat blitz was preceded by a public outreach event at the park visitor center on July 23rd. Bat researcher Dr. Tim Carter (Ball State University) lead an activity for kids in the afternoon called “Be a Bat Scientist”. This was followed in the evening by a presentation on the “Bats of Mammoth Cave National Park” by Dr. Carter.

Several media articles resulted from the blitz and can be found, along with photos and other information, at the following links: