Forest Service

2946 Chestnut Street

Montgomery, AL 36107



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Contact: Public Affairs Office

Tammy Brown / 334-315-4926

Dawn Suiter/334-224-5336

Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s “Bat Blitz” Successful in

Bankhead National Forest


DOUBLE SPRINGS, AL, August 18, 2022

During the first week of August 2022, the Alabama Bat Working Group hosted a successful Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s Bat Blitz (SBDN) on the Bankhead National Forest.  Biologists from across the southeast United States and abroad gathered in the national forest to sample bats over roads, streams and caves using mist nets and harp traps. They also banded and radio-tagged the bats known as an important part of night-time wildlife.    A Bat Blitz is a coordinated, intensive survey designed to sample the bat community in an extensive area.

The event generally involves a substantial, voluntary contribution of time and materials from bat experts.

An educational event was hosted to raise awareness about the value of bats and their role in our environment. For instance, did you know that bats consume insects that would have caused billions of dollars in agricultural damage in the USA every year? Bats also prey on insects that are vectors of diseases to other animals and humans.

The goal of the 2022 Alabama Bat Blitz was to conduct a comprehensive survey of the bat community of Bankhead National Forest and surrounding environments.  One of the goals is to continue learning where bats occur on the national forest, their habitat use and about trends in presence.

SBDN held its Bat Blitz at Bankhead in 2008, prior to the advent of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in Alabama, a disease that has devastated bat populations in the United States. WNS was first documented at Bankhead in 2014.

The 2022 Alabama Bat Blitz replicated the 2008 Blitz and will directly compare the composition of the bat community at Bankhead 6 years before and 8 years after the arrival of WNS.  Importantly, the intensive survey, along with other ancillary data collected in the State, revealed the impact of the fatal WNS bat disease on once prevalent federally listed Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) and Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), in a critical forest habitat like the Bankhead NF.

The partners also documented feeding activity and roosting sites of bat species of concern using radio-tracking. Rare bats and species in decline from the WNS were tagged with lightweight (0.25 grams) radio transmitter that emits a radio signal to portable radio receivers for radio tracking the bats’ locations night and day.   This information will guide the future management of Bankhead National Forest by the US Forest Service (USFS).

Ten teams of biologists surveyed bats over a three-night period.  The biologists netted or trapped 29 sites across Winston and Lawrence counties, including both upland and riparian sites, pine, hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood forests, and caves.   Bats were captured with a fine-mesh mist net and were then quickly removed by a trained biologist. They were weighed, measured, identified and health status was quickly assessed. Most bats were released within a few minutes where they were captured.

The biologists captured 189 bats of five species, including red bat, big brown bat, tricolored bat, evening bat, and Seminole bat.  No federally listed bats, Indiana, Gray, or Northern long-eared bats were captured this year. The biologists attached radio transmitters to four rare tricolored bats in attempts to conduct a radio telemetry project to learn more about their use of the forest.  A small team of biologists attempted to radio-track the four bats from the ground and the air for the life of the radio transmitters, a period of about 12 days.  One radio-tagged tricolored bat was located over eight miles from its initial capture point.

In comparison, in 2008 before the arrival of white-nose syndrome, at the same sites and with less netting effort, biologists at the Bat Blitz captured 385 bats of seven species including big brown bat, red bat, gray bat, Northern long-eared bat, Indiana bat, evening bat and tricolored bat. The impact of WNS on the northern long-eared bat was especially evident when 101 were captured in 2008, but none were captured in 2022. The declines in other federally-listed bat species that hibernate in northern Alabama caves demonstrates the need to protect these species and their critical habitats.

About 70 individuals including biologists and students from around the southeast and representing multiple federal and state agencies, power companies, consultants, and universities participated in the Bat Blitz.  Camp McDowell graciously served as Bat Blitz headquarters.  Generous donations from sponsors helped defray participant registration, supplies, refreshments and other costs associated with conducting a Bat

Blitz.  Sponsors of the event include the US Forest Service, Alabama Bat Working Group, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Power Company, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources –

Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Copperhead Environmental Consulting, TVA, Alabama Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Northwest RC&D Council, Vanasse-Hangren-Brustlin, Inc, CCR Environmental Consulting, and Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer Association.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.


USDA Forest Service, National Forests in Alabama:  National Forests are working forests where you can expect to see controlled burns, tree thinning, tree planting and other management activities throughout the year. The projects are focused on maintaining the health and resilience of national forests while at the same time providing products and services to the public.

Coming to the Bat Blitz? 

Please Access the Participant Guide here:

2022 Bat Blitz Participant Guide_Version_20220728

The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network is proud to present this year’s Bat Blitz, to be held August 1-5, 2022. at the Bankhead National Forest in northern Alabama. This year we return to the beautiful Bankhead National Forest in Alabama, site of the 2008 SBDN Bat Blitz. This is a very special occasion. We look forward to reuniting with familiar faces as we reboot Bat Blitz in the post-COVID era. The Alabama Bat Working Group will celebrate 20 years of Bat Blitzes, and by replicating the 2008 Blitz, we will collect post-WNS data to compare with the pre-WNS data.

We anticipate approximately 100 bat biologists, wildlife professionals, and volunteers to attend.

Blitz Headquarters/Housing/Meals

Camp McDowell

105 Delong Rd, Nauvoo, AL 35578

34.014718, -87.362365

Camp McDowell is a ministry of the Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Alabama and is open to all. It is one of the largest Episcopal Camp and Conference Centers in the US. It began in 1923 and was relocated to the Southern portion of the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County, Alabama in 1947. Like the Bankhead, it consists of breathtaking canyons, waterfalls and forests, and is known as the Beautiful Queen of Clear Creek. Camp McDowell has a wonderful culture of welcoming acceptance and has established a reputation for being an outstanding destination built upon simple elegance and attention to service and enjoyment. McDowell offers Summer Camp, Special Sessions, the McDowell Conference Center, the Alabama Folk School, the McDowell Environmental Center and the McDowell Farm School. We expect a lovely time at Wonderful Wonderful Camp McDowell.
Sleeping arrangements –Unless you pay for a single room, limited to a handful and on a first come-first served basis, all rooms are double occupancy and you should expect to be sharing a room. If you have a roommate preference, indicate so on the registration form, and we will do our best to accommodate. Two different housing areas will be used during the blitz, Miller Commons and Stough Lodge. The facilities of the Camp are great. Motel style rooms are air conditioned and each room has two beds. We will make every accommodation possible to give you your room preference. Linens are provided.
Human and Wildlife Safety

We are taking steps to ensure this is a safe and inclusive event. The safety of Blitz participants AND wildlife is of paramount importance. Based on our survey of SBDN members, we’ve taken numerous steps to ensure we meet under and follow the most responsible principals when working with wildlife and engaging in group activities.  We anticipate that all SBDN participants will be up-to-date with vaccinations.  However, as with any large activity, Blitz participants should be aware that members of the public, support staff and others encountered during the blitz may not be up-to-date with vaccinations and, in many cases, employers may not be able to ask about vaccination status.

  • SARS Cov-2/Covid-19 VaccinationsOur Blitz is a vaccination-only event for SBDN participants.  We are following the most recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance that recommends that all Blitz participants are up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccinations.  In general, up-to-date is defined as receiving two doses of the primary vaccination series AND one booster when eligible.  For more information on your vaccination status, please visit the CDC’s website here: Stay Up to Date with Your Covid-19 Vaccine
  • Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Testing Prior to Arrival:  We ask that all participants take a rapid Covid-9 test within 24-hours of arriving at Blitz headquarters and provide photographic proof of a negative test.  You can receive free rapid tests through the U.S. Government/US Postal Service.  Visit this link to get tests mailed to your door: Get your Free Rapid Covid Tests
  • Feeling Ill at the Blitz:  We will have a limited number of rapid tests available at Blitz headquarters.  If you test positive, we have budgeted and reserved a small number of single-occupancy isolation/quarantine rooms within Stough Lodge.  We will also strive to perform thorough contact tracing regarding potential exposures.
  • N-95 Valve-free Masking:  All participants within six feet of bats are required to wear an N-95 mask. Masks will be provided for field work. We strongly encourage all participants to also wear masks when traveling with others to field locations.
  • Rabies Vaccinations and Titer Status: All handlers of wildlife must be fully vaccinated with the rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis series and have a current (within 2 years) rabies antibody titer check prior to arriving at Blitz headquarters.  A serology report must determine that wildlife handlers meet World Health Organization rabies virus neutralizing antibodies standard of ≥ 0.5 International Units per milliliter (0.5 IU/ML) or complete neutralization at a serum dilution in the 1:5 serum dilution Rapid Fluorescent Foci Inhibition Test (RFFIT). We ask that all wildlife handlers present proof of their rabies vaccination or titer-check status.
  • White-nose Syndrome:  The Bankhead National Forest is within a WNS-endemic zone.

Coarse Blitz Schedule (all times in central daylight time)

A more comprehensive 2022 Bat Blitz Participant Guide, with a full-schedule is coming soon!

  • Monday, August 1, 2022 (if staying on Monday evening please arrive by 6:00 P.M.)
    • Check-in/Registration: 3:00-6:00 P.M.
    • Public Education Event: 3:00-6:00 P.M.
    • Group Social Event: 6:30-9:30 P.M.
  • Tuesday, August 2, 2022
    • Mandatory Team Leader Meeting: 12:00-1:00 P.M.
    • Mandatory All-Participant Meeting: 1:00-2:00 P.M.
    • Breakfast, Lunch and field box dinner provided
    • Mist netting on the Bankhead National Forest and return to headquarters by 2:00 A.M.
  • Wednesday, August 3, 2022
    • Breakfast, Lunch and field box dinner provided
    • Mist netting on the Bankhead National Forest and return to headquarters by 2:00 A.M.
  • Thursday, August 4, 2022
    • Breakfast, Lunch and field box dinner provided
    • Mist netting on the Bankhead National Forest and return to headquarters by 2:00 A.M.
    • Decontamination of Gear for Night-Owls
  • Friday, August 5, 2022
    • Decontamination of Gear for Early-Risers
    • Farewell Breakfast, Awards
    • Check-out and departure: 12:00 P.M.

Team Leaders Needed

Please contact our local host committee by email or phone if you would like to be considered as a team leader.  Team leaders should have adequate qualifications to: (1) safely handle and identify local and protected bat species; (2), manage a field crew with varying experience levels; and (3) have all equipment and materials for operating a mist net site comprising 2-3 net set-ups.

Registration Fees

  • Regular Registration (Double-occupancy room with roommate): $100
  • Student Registration: $50
  • T-shirts: $20

We currently have 31 participants registered! (Updated 06/03/2022)

If you have any questions, please contact the Host Committee:

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