Help researchers track Illinois bat species

  • The Illinois Bat Conservation Program is hosting a survey to locate local roosts for Illinois' 13 bat species.

    The Illinois Bat Conservation Program is hosting a survey to locate local roosts for Illinois' 13 bat species. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 8/5/2021 7:31 PM

Do you have a bat roost on your property?

Become a community scientist with the Illinois Bat Conservation Program. Go to www.illinoisbats.org and click on "Roost Surveys."

 

They will follow up if you want a guano collection kit to find out what bat species is living in the roost.

These data will help biologists at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources develop management strategies to ensure Illinois bats are a part of our future.

Signs of a bat roost include seeing bats flying in and out of a tree or structure, seeing the bats within a structure, or guano piles inside a structure.

Illinois is home to 13 bat species. While all of the species feed on insects, they have a wide range of habitats, overwintering behaviors, and prey preferences.

Building a bat house and installing it on your property is a great way to help Illinois bats. Habitat loss is one of the largest threats to bats worldwide, and bat houses create homes for dozens, or even hundreds of bats a time.

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While they come in several different designs, all bat houses serve the same function: homes to protect bats from the elements while they roost during the day and raise their pups. Several organizations make bat houses that you can buy and place on your property. Or if you have some basic carpentry skills you can use the resources below to build a bat house yourself. Rather than reinvent the wheel, follow several links to bat box designs at www.illinoisbats.org.

Established in July 2016, the Illinois Bat Conservation Program is a statewide research, monitoring and outreach program focused on conservation and management of Illinois' 13 bat species. Using yearly surveys across the state, they are working to establish which species of bats are present, where they are found, and where they reproduce. This data will become part of a larger data set for the North American Bat Monitoring Program, contributing to the conservation of bats nationwide.

Core collaborators include the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute, Eastern Illinois University, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Among the many websites where you can learn more about bats are Bat Conservation International, North American Society for Bat Research and the Midwest Bat Working Group.