Save Bracken Cave
Save Bracken Cave
Conservation Deal Saves the World’s Largest Bat Colony on Halloween SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 31, 2014)– Today the City of San Antonio, The Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International (BCI) have secured 1,521 acres adjacent to BCI’s Bracken Bat Cave, home to the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. The property, known as Crescent Hills, was purchased for $20.5 million and was previously slated to become a 3,500-home subdivision. Read the full press release here.
Bracken Cave is home to more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats, making it the largest gathering of mammals in the world. Each June, more than 5 million bats are born and raised in the cave. The females become pregnant in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, then migrate in March and April to the cave. At the height of summer, this colony eats 140 tons of insects each night, as more than 15 million bats are foraging in the surrounding countryside.
In spring 2013, we became aware of a plan to build 3,800 homes next to our preserve and under the nightly three-hour flight path of the bats. Because the young bats make extensive use of Bracken Cave Preserve and the surrounding lands, the risk of regular human-bat interactions will be high, which would quickly put bats and people in direct conflict.
The fact that the bats have been living in Bracken for 10,000 years won’t amount to much if nearby neighbors get fed up with finding young bats clustered around their porch lights every night, catching moths, or if a steady stream of residents have to get preventative rabies shots ($900 - $1000 for the series of three shots!) because they or their cat or dog found a sick or tired bat on the ground.
We are currently coordinating a partnership of public and private funds to purchase the Crescent Hills property from the current owner/developer. Public support for our effort – including yours! – has been enormous. Saving Bracken’s bats has become a major bipartisan cause within Texas government, and the City of San Antonio, led by City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, is considering $5 million in aquifer-protection funds (Bracken lies over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone) if BCI can also raise matching private donations.
Although our progress has been private due to the sensitive nature of our negotiations, please be assured that we are still continuing our negotiations with Galo Properties. There are a number of issues on the table for discussion, and slowly they are being resolved. We were once well more than $10 million apart in our negotiations with Galo; we’re now negotiating over a gap that has shrunk to just a few million dollars.
You’ve helped make all of this possible. Were it not for the early and strong outcry from our members and the public at large, we would not be where we are today. We still have much of our fundraising in front of us, but many of Texas’ most prominent citizens, from State Representative Lyle Larson to former First Lady Laura Bush, have helped in one way or another, as have many people outside of Texas.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT – we will update you with new information as soon as we can!