Protect Mega-Populations
Protecting Sites in USA-Canada

Protecting Sites in USA-Canada

In collaboration with a wide array of partners, Bat Conservation International (BCI) strives to protect sites in the US and Canada where large mega-populations of bats reside. Our site conservation plans address the long-lasting protection and management of these populations of bats and their habitats and the abatement of serious threats that may put their survival at risk.

The mega-population sites identified for priority conservation include areas containing a high percentage of the total population of an individual species, including major hibernacula, roosting colonies, migratory concentrations, etc.

Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country in the south-central portion of the U.S. contains at least 11 roosting sites for the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) that hold large (>500,000 bats) congregations of this species during some portion of the year. Although the species is wide-spread across western North America, southward through Central America, and into the arid and semi-arid regions of western and southern South America, central Texas and Mexico are home to the largest concentrations of this species.

This species was historically important to the local economy because of the guano market. Officials of the Southern Pacific Railroad estimated that they annually transported 65 carloads of 30,000 pounds each from Texas, making bat guano the state's largest mineral export before oil in the early 1900s. Bracken and Frio caves in Central Texas, on average, each produced 75 to 80 tons annually. Today these same bat populations are still an economic boon, saving central Texas cotton farmers about $74 per acre in pest control. A 2011 article in Science estimated the total value of bats to U.S. agriculture at roughly $23 billion a year. Additionally, local economies benefit from tourism related to bat emergence viewing at the 10 sites with public viewing opportunities.

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