Looking back at important milestones saving bats.
This year, Bat Conservation International (BCI) celebrates its 40th anniversary. Here, we look back at important milestones while also looking ahead to the future of bat conservation.
BCI was founded in Milwaukee on March 12, 1982.
BCI’s first international project focuses on protecting Asian Wrinkle-lipped Bats in Thailand’s Khao Chong Pran Cave.
Together with the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission and The Nature Conservancy, BCI helped protect Judges Cave in Florida. At the time, the cave was Florida’s largest maternity roost for Endangered Gray Bats.
BCI helped The Nature Conservancy protect Gray Bats in Hubbard’s Cave in Tennessee by installing a bat gate. This cave is one of North America’s three most important bat hibernation sites.
BCI moved its headquarters from Milwaukee to the University of Texas at Austin. The city was the epicenter of a major bat controversy when Mexican Free-tailed Bats moved into the newly rebuilt Congress Avenue Bridge.
The Student Scholarship program launches to support up-and-coming bat conservationists. Since the program’s inception, BCI has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships for conservation-related bat studies in 75 countries.
BCI testifies at congressional hearings to establish the National Park of American Samoa, which protected two species of Flying Foxes. President Reagan signed a bill creating the Park in 1988, and in 2020, the U.S. Mint commemorated the park with a quarter featuring the Samoan Flying Fox.
“America’s Neighborhood Bats” is published by University of Texas Press.
Austin, Texas, dedicates the BCI educational exhibit at the Congress Avenue Bridge bat colony and declares itself America’s Bat Capital.
“The Secret World of Bats,” a documentary shown in Europe and Australia, is named Best Science Documentary of the Year in the 8th French Television Festival for Science and Documentary Films.
BCI launches more than a decade’s worth (1991–2013) of intensive, hands-on training workshops to prepare the next generation of bat conservation professionals.
BCI purchases 4.7 acres of land surrounding Bracken Cave, located in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio. The cave is home to the largest known Mexican Free-tailed Bat maternity colony. Over the next 25 years, BCI worked in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to protect 1,500 acres of valuable habitat. Each summer, BCI guests can attend Bat Flights, where the bats swirl out of the cave entrance at dusk in a “batnado.”
BCI launched a project to study, design, and test artificial roosts, resulting in improved bat house designs and the publication of “The Bat House Builders Handbook.”
The North American Bats and Mines Project was launched. Over the next 27 years, it evolved into BCI’s current Subterranean Program, protecting underground bat habitats—including caves and abandoned mines—all over the country.
“Discover Bats!” education curriculum was published and distributed to schools.
BCI became a founding partner in forming the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative to actively pursue solutions to reduce bat fatalities at wind turbines.
BCI, Norma Monfort, and six governmental and non-governmental organizations signed a Declaration of Understanding on the Co-Management of the Monfort Bat Conservation Park to protect Monfort Bat Cave in the Philippines and the nearly 2 million Geoffroy’s Rousette Bats that occupy the cave roost.
White-nose Syndrome emerges in New York, killing thousands of hibernating bats. BCI responds immediately by ramping up research and monitoring efforts and facilitating information-sharing with researchers and managers to search for solutions.
BCI helps host the early science strategy meetings on White-nose Syndrome, bringing together scientists and resource managers to determine a coordinated strategy to fight the disease.
The United Nations declares the International Year of the Bat, which is planned to extend over two years.
BCI helps launch the North American Bat (NABat) Monitoring Program.
BCI publishes the first scientific paper describing the population-level impacts of bat fatalities from wind energy facilities to the Hoary Bat, raising the alarm for implementing actions to reduce bat fatalities at wind farms.
BCI works with the local community, the Rainforest Trust, and the National Trust of Fiji to designate the first-ever protected area for bats in Fiji, securing the Endangered Fijian Free-tailed Bat colony in Nakanacagi Cave.
BCI and partners launch a multinational agave restoration effort to provide habitat protection for the Mexican Long-nosed Bat.
Lesser Long-nosed Bats are removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List.
Together with Zoo Miami and Florida Power and Light Company, BCI launches the FPL Bat Lab at Zoo Miami in southern Florida to lead conservation efforts for the Endangered Florida Bonneted Bat.
BCI scientists discover a new species of bat on the Nimba mountains in Guinea: Myotis nimbaensis.
BCI and the Rwandan Wildlife Conservation Association, assisted by a multi-national team of experts, announce the rediscovery of the Critically Endangered Hill’s Horseshoe Bat, which has not been seen in almost 40 years.