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VOLUME 31, NO. 2 Summer 2013


We Need Your Help
to keep the bats flying at Bracken Cave

Bat Conservation International has been protecting the bats of Bracken Cave Reserve – the world’s largest bat colony – since we purchased the cave in 1992. Thanks to the generosity of members and friends, we now own 697 ­surrounding acres of Central Texas Hill Country. The acquisitions were planned as a buffer between more than 10 million Mexican free-tailed bats and the expanding suburbs of nearby San Antonio.

But that rugged landscape is no longer enough. This incredible summer maternity colony faces a serious challenge: a subdivision of 3,800 homes is planned along the Bracken Cave Reserve’s southern boundary. The impact of moving 10,000 people within a half-mile of 10 million bats is a daunting prospect for both the people and the bats.

Many of you have visited the cave on our special Member Nights. You’ve witnessed the unforgettable emergence as millions of bats – mostly nursing mothers and pups just learning to fly – swirl up from the cave mouth in a vortex so dense you can hear the flapping of wings before thick ribbons of bats spread over the landscape to hunt tons of insect pests.

The subdivision planned by Galo Properties will build at least two to three homes per acre, a radical change from the area’s large ranches. The risk of human-and-bat encounters is great, as is the potential for unfortunate outcomes.

Texas law leaves little room for consideration of many relevant environmental issues, including protecting the ­Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone or the federally endangered golden-cheeked warbler that frequents our preserve and the Galo land. This proposal ultimately goes before the San Antonio Planning Commission for approval, with limited consideration of these concerns.

Public appeals to Texas public officials, including the San Antonio City Council and Mayor, may be our best hope. That’s where we need your help. Please consider visiting our website, signing our online petition and writing or calling the officials listed on our site. Thank you.

A Special Gift to Honor Special Friends

BCI?Board Member Sandy Read is supporting our fight to save Bracken Cave through a special gift in honor of his parents, Verne and Marion Read. They were among BCI’s earliest and most dedicated supporters. Verne died in 2012. Sandy’s message:

“Bracken Cave is not only one of the crown jewels of the bat world, it is one of the most amazing animal-viewing experiences one can have. We, as an organization, took on the responsibility to be caretakers of this treasure when we acquired it. There are so many people who have been so moved by this cave and the emergence of the bats. We must do what we can to minimize the development around it. I am contributing $10,000 for the defense of Bracken Cave. This is given in memory of Verne Read and in honor of his surviving wife, Marion Read. I am also honoring [BCI?Founder] Merlin Tuttle for his vision in trying to save this cave from the onslaught of an expanding city.”

You’ll find contact information and the latest news about this dire threat
to the bats of Bracken Cave at www.batcon.org/savebracken

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All articles in this issue:
We Need Your Help
Protecting Endangered Species
Flying Foxes Rebuild Madagascar’s Tattered Forests
An Unusual Home for Mother Bats
Grassroots Help for Russia’s Forgotten Bats
The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend
The Memo from our Executive Director

Unless otherwise noted, all images are copyright ©Merlin D. Tuttle and/or ©Bat Conservation International