Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Vant to Suc Yur Bloood!!!

Have you ever gotten scratched up by a Hoary Bat? No? Well you are truely missing out. Not really. During the summer field season I periodically have to go out and do bat monitoring for threatened bat species in the area. Its a way of making sure that the species are thriving throughout the season and making sure the youngins are getting enough food to eat. I know it doesn't sound glamorous but it actually is quite fun. To the left here is the Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinerus)... by God I did learn something in college... LATIN!

A grad student I went to college with and one of my old professors developed a protocol for bat capture and recapture that I adopted and brought in my repetour when I came to work with for the Forest Service. I'm glad I did since some of the old school surveying they were doing was leading to bat injuries. Not good for threatened species right? So fixing that is great, but the only problem is it requires me to go out alone at o-dark-thrity with a pack full of ultra-light weight pvc type pipe that I build a harp trap out of and set up at the mouths of caves, mine shafts, and other creepy places that go bump in the night. The picture below is basically what the trap looks like. What you cant see very well is the vertical "harp" strings running from the top of the bar down to the bottom bar where the collection bag is.
Once the set up is complete the night is usually pretty calm until I hear a "sprong... flap flap flap.. scratch scratch... then silence" when a bat hits the harp section of the trap and rolls down into a canvas colleting bag at the bottom of the system. Then with head lamp on and heavy leather gloves donned I go about weighing, aging, marking for recapture, and sexing (get your mind out of the gutter) the critter and then letting it go. Sounds pretty straight forward right? Well most nights it is but last night one of the Hoary bats I caught was ticked off about something, struggled like a mad dog, and attacked me after I let it go. No biting but it landed back on my arm and scratched me up pretty good. Good thing my tetinus shots are up to date and I carry around a jug of rubbing alcohol swipes, antibiotic ointment, and of course bandaids. All in a nights work. Tell you what though, if I ever recatch that little sucker we're going to have some words.
So other than that, the night was pretty uneventful. Caught and marked over 250 bats in one sitting. Makes for a long night though. I leave the office to go out in the field at 7pm then dont usually get back til about 10 the next morning. I should be exhausted right? So why am I sitting here at 11:30 in the morning bloggin? Thats a very good question. Just can't seem to sleep during the day time. Its a good thing that I only go on this schedule for about a week at a time. Otherwise I'd probably be a zombie and cranky with everyone I knew. But I suppose that means I should wrap this up and give it the old college try anyway. Tootleloo


Julie (It is.) said...

Hey, that's kind of cool! bats are pretty popular in Denver 'cause they eat nasty mosquitoes. We have bathouses all over. Would I want to touch one? Um, no, not really.

Look forward to more tales!

Kate's mom :)

Kati said...


O. m. g. My own mother beat me to posting on your blog. I blame the time difference!! And kindergarteners! And the humidity! Darn it.

I vote for no more decapitated bat pictures.

Welcome to bloggerspace...

Julie (It is.) said...

I win! I win! I win!

Tracy, you must be SO glad you started a blog so the Southern women could have a posting war ;)