• Bat Blitzes

2023 Southeastern Bat Diversity Network Bat Blitz

August 6-10, 2023

SBDN 2023 Bat Blitz

Chattahoochee National Forest and Ft. Mountain State Park

Chatsworth, Georgia

Blitz Summary

Hosts: Katrina Morris, Emily Ferrall, and Maggie Hunt (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) and Ruth Stokes and Rollins Jolly (U.S. Forest Service).

More than 80 bat biologists, researchers, managers and students converged at Fort Mountain State Park August 6 – August 10, 2023 for the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s (SBDN) 20th Annual Bat Blitz. Seventy-four volunteers representing 45 agencies, corporations, universities and organizations traveled from 14 states including Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, and Arkansas. Participants volunteered their time and shared survey equipment to conduct a landscape-scale survey for bats in the Chattahoochee National Forest and adjacent state and federal lands.

Thirty-three sites were sampled over a 3-night period. Net sites were located inside Fort Mountain State Park, surrounding lands within the Chattahoochee National Forest and Carters Lake area (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), state lands and other sites in Gilmer, Fannin, and Murray counties, Georgia. Surveys were conducted in oak-hickory-pine and southern mixed hardwood forest types along mountain streams, trails, road corridors and flyways near a gated mine. Bats were captured using a variety of mist nets configurations. Data collected from each bat included species, sex, age, weight, forearm length, reproductive condition and an examination of wing membrane surfaces for signs of white nose-syndrome. United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Georgia Department of Natural Resources protocols for disinfection between bats and between netting sites were followed, as were current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service SARS CoV-2 protocols for safe handling of bats.

During three nights of sampling, often between rain and lightning events, participants captured 98 bats representing 6 species. Species captured included 1 northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis, federally endangered species), 1 tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus, federally proposed endangered species), 1 eastern small-footed myotis (M. leibii, species of concern), 53 big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), 39 red bats (Lasiurus borealis), and 3 evening bats (Nycticeius humeralis).

The 2023 blitz was a resampling event to survey the same sites previously sampled in Georgia for the 2010 SBDN blitz. The 2010 blitz occurred before white-nose syndrome appeared in Georgia in 2013, and stark differences in bat abundance and diversity were observed between the events. Notably, the 2010 blitz captured 89 northern long-eared bats and 65 tricolored bats, so capturing only 1 of each of these species at the 2023 blitz was a significant difference in species abundance. The 2010 blitz captured 292 bats of 9 species, reflecting another shift in bat diversity in the area compared to the 98 bats of 6 species captured at the 2023 blitz.

Occurrence data will be used to make informed management decisions and provide baseline data for the area sampled.

Bat Blitz FAQs

A Bat Blitz is a coordinated, intensive survey designed to sample the bat community in an extensive area. In just 2-3 days, volunteers at a Bat Blitz can accomplish what a small field crew could do in an entire season. These events generally involve a substantial, voluntary contribution of time and materials from bat experts. Amount of effort exerted and data collected during a Bat Blitz can be greater than what a single biologist could accomplish in an entire season. Read participation summaries and see what a Blitz can do for your agency.

Anyone is welcome to attend a Bat Blitz. Attendees with valid rabies vaccinations and prior bat experience will be able to handle bats under the supervision of Blitz team leaders. All others are welcome to observe bats and the batty biologists that study them!

A Blitz is an efficient and fun way to provide land managers with limited information on local bat communities. Because many agencies/organizations either do not have bat experts on staff or have limited access to such expertise, obtaining information on local bat communities can be difficult. With information from a Bat Blitz, land managers will be better equipped to consider the needs of bats in land management planning efforts.

If you manage a large area of public or private land and need more information on the bat community, then you may have a good site for a Bat Blitz. It is important to consider if it is feasible to use volunteer biologists to survey the area, if you have enough time to properly plan the event, and if you have sufficient funding to cover lodging, food, and other basics. It is much easier for a team of people to organize a Blitz, so you should find at least two other people who can help with fundraising and logistics.

Most blitzes have been focused on public lands, but any sizeable area (e.g., Forest Service district, state and federal game lands and parks, National Wildlife Refuges) that needs a basic bat survey then Bat Blitz is a candidate for an sbdn sponsored Bat Blitz. The sbdnis most interested in sponsoring blitzes in areas where few or no bat surveys have been conducted in the past. One major consideration for the success of a Blitz is the availability of housing sufficient for a group of 50-100 adults that is within one hour of most survey areas.

Traditionally, sbdn-sponsored blitzes have been held in late July or early August to encourage student and professional participation and to allow for comparisons between bat blitzes. If you would like the Bat Blitz to be held at an alternative time, you should be prepared to provide sound justification to sbdn. The “preferred” schedule for Blitzes is Tuesday-Thursday (trapping nights). Beginning a Blitz on Monday means Sunday travel which may be problematic for some due to personal and professional constraints.

Hosting a Bat Blitz is a very labor intensive, time consuming effort, but it can be well worth your time if properly planned. While a Bat Blitz can theoretically be hosted by anyone, involvement of sbdn as a sponsor can greatly enhance participation and notability of the event. To help ensure that these Blitzes maintain a level of quality control and continuity, sbdn has prepared an information packet to supplement our advisory role by providing: (1) guidelines, (2) requirements and (3) a timeline to assist planning relative to what will be expected from you.

The sbdn Bat Blitz Committee (see list below) is happy to discuss potential Blitz sites and will select a Blitz site each year approximately 18 months prior to the event. We require a brief proposal from potential hosts outlining basics such as funding, housing, food survey sites, and goals of the Blitz. Prior to submitting a bid for a sbdn-sponsored Blitz, a team 2-3 people should investigate survey potential, funding, and housing in the area of interest. The local host Blitz team must demonstrate that their agency or organization fully supports the effort and will allow the local team the resources and time to prepare for the event. If you would like more information on hosting a sbdn sponsored Bat Blitz, please contact one of the Bat Blitz Committee members.

The 2022 SBDN Guidelines for hosting a Bat Blitz can be found here.

Bat Blitz Committee

  • Past Blitzes