Bat homes

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologists Josh Campbell and Dustin Thames attach artificial bark to untreated telephone poles to help Indiana bats establish colonies in Wilson County. SUBMITTED

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency crews are erecting artificial trees in Wilson County to mimic the summer roosting habitat of the endangered Indiana bat.

For the past several springs, researchers have tracked Indiana Bats migrating from their winter hibernaculum on the Cumberland Plateau to farms located in Wilson County.

The preferred summer habitat for the bat consists of dead trees with large, loose sections of bark. Often these trees fall during the winter, leaving the already stressed bat to expend energy searching for a new summer home.

“Bats go into hibernation with a limited amount of fat store to sustain them through the winter, so when they emerge in the spring they need to feed and find a summer roost,” TWRA Region II Biodiversity Coordinator Josh Campbell said. 

Working with local landowners the TWRA crews installed nine untreated telephone poles outfitted with a specially designed wrap that will mimic loose bark. These artificial trees will last longer and provide the Indiana bat a more sustained, accessible habitat to establish maternity colonies.

“For whatever reason Wilson County appears to be a pretty significant roosting area for the Indiana bat,” Campbell said. “The goal is to provide as much sustainable habitat as possible for female Indiana bats to have and raise their young.”

TWRA biologists will be monitoring the area next spring.

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