As BCI's network of conservation partners has grown, the accompanying demand for specific, project-oriented training has led us to offer a new slate of field workshops in addition to our flagship Bat Conservation and Management Workshop (see articles, pages 3 and 8). The following photos show examples of some of the more specialized courses that we have developed in the last three years with partners from government, industry, and private organizations in both North and South America.
When built correctly, bat-friendly gates are excellent deterrents to cave disturbance and abuse, prohibiting unauthorized human entry without restricting bats or airflow. Poor design, construction, or placement, however, can have disastrous effects on bats living in caves. At each of these five-day workshops, cave conservationists learn about specific design requirements while actually building a gate (at great cost savings) to protect an important bat roost.
The Anabat computer analysis system is an excellent aid to bat researchers for field surveys and habitat evaluation. Using input from a bat detector, the system can identify many bat species by their unique echolocation calls. This four-day workshop gives researchers hands-on experience in gathering, recording, and analyzing calls under true field conditions with the tutelage of the system's inventor and other experts.
Mexican Free-tail Workshop
Because Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis
) roost in huge colonies, they are extremely vulnerable to vandalism and other dangers. This annual one-day workshop brings together land owners and park employees who manage free-tail cave sites in the U.S. and Mexico. Participants share current research findings, educational program ideas, and management techniques so they can better safeguard the remaining populations of these migratory bats and educate the public about them.
Bat Educator Workshop
Because ignorance and misinformation are primary reasons for the persecution of bats, education is the key to changing attitudes and the future. This intensive one-day workshop gives educators and interpreters the tools and experience to confidently facilitate bat lessons, demonstrate construction of a bat house, lead a bat-habitat hike, and discuss the field equipment and techniques biologists use in studying bats. The course provides an ideal foundation for the many school teachers who have discovered that bats are perfect for teaching subjects such as biology, ecology, math, and reading comprehension, as well as the countless BCI members dedicated to teaching the public about bats.
Mine Assessment for Bats Workshop
Abandoned mines are like Noah's Arks for bats that have lost their natural roosts in caves, buildings, and trees. Although safety concerns often dictate that old mines be sealed shut, if the entrances are closed with a bat-friendly gate instead, bats can continue to roost inside. Since 1995, this three-day workshop has taught biologists, geologists, mine reclamation specialists, and wildlife managers how to assess and protect mines as bat habitat. As a result, many government and industry owners of mine lands have developed their own bat conservation programs.
Vampire Control Workshop
The single largest threat to many species of bats in Latin America comes from misguided attempts by ranchers to protect their livestock from rabies by exterminating any bats they find. Tragically, this approach rarely eliminates vampire bats that prey on cattle, but instead kills insect-, nectar-, and fruit-eating bats that are beneficial to agriculture and the environment. This five-day workshop teaches ranchers several simple, affordable, and effective methods for controlling vampire bats without harming other bat species. The course has been presented in Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico, and will soon be offered in Bolivia and Colombia as well.