Researchers find bats in Glacier National Park

Parks Canada is excited to confirm Little Brown bat presence in the Nakimu cave system in Glacier National Park.

  • Nov. 11, 2015 7:00 a.m.
Fine mist nets were used to capture bats in Glacier National Park in August.

Fine mist nets were used to capture bats in Glacier National Park in August.

Contributed by Parks Canada

Parks Canada is excited to confirm Little Brown bat presence in the Nakimu cave system in Glacier National Park. In addition to this good news, we can also confirm that bats at the caves are healthy and we do not have White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in the caves.

Results from research done with acoustic monitors in 2013 and 2014 suggested that at least 5 different bat species, including the endangered Little Brown bat, use the smaller cave entrances for swarming and possibly use the caves as a hibernaculum. Little Brown bat presence, but not hibernation, was confirmed this year when researchers conducted mist netting near cave entrances and captured several bats.

Acoustic monitors in the caves recorded bat calls from Little Brown bats and Long-eared bats and at least three other species.

In 2015, in order to have a visual confirmation of bats, researchers set up mist nets and captured several Little Brown bats. The bats were examined, DNA and other data collected and then they were quickly released back into the wild.

PHOTO: During a training session at Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk in Mount Revelstoke National Park, a California Myotis was captured and its bat call captured on an acoustic monitor (Wildlife Acoustics TM). The session helped prepare staff for the research in Glacier National Park. Photo contributed by Parks Canada.

We discovered that we have bats, with 65% identified as Little Brown bat, inside four of six cave entrances and outside two entrances, with activity highest between late July and mid-September. Patterns of activity suggest bats use the caves as a swarming site and for hibernation.

Next steps include additional mist netting over the next two years in order to confirm resident bat species. Mist netting will take place in the summer when there is a lower chance of capturing migrant bats that are passing through.

This research supports Parks Canada’s commitment to protecting endangered species like the Little Brown bat. As a world leader in conservation, Parks Canada is committed to ensuring the survival of bat species as they play an important role in the ecosystem as night-time pollinators and in pest control.

Understanding the distribution of bats, their movements, and the location of hibernacula has become essential, as we strive to gather baseline data and take preventative actions against the spread of WNS and protect species like the Little Brown bat.

Click here to read about the Revelstoke Review’s visit to Nakimu Caves with bat researchers in August 2013.