Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mason County May Get Bat Study Tower

Indiana Bat
Indiana Bat (photo by US Fish & Wildlife Service)
based on a news article in the Ludington Daily News, "Consumers seeking OK for bat study tower," by Brian Mulherin, Mar 10, 2009

Consumers Energy is seeking approval for a tower to record bat vocalizations in Riverton Township, Mason County. Dennis Marvin of CE said that they would be attempting to identify the endangered Indiana Bat. The tower would be fitted with an acoustical devise that measures frequencies of sound. In this way they can determine if the bats are in the area.

The Indiana Bat reaches the northern edge of its range in Manistee County. They have been observed at Tippy Dam, and in Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness.

Consumers Energy needs to conduct the study as part of an environmental impact analysis, because they hope to place wind turbines in the area. The Lake Michigan shoreline is prime real estate for wind power. But it is not known if the bats migrate through Mason County. There numbers here have never been counted.

Dr. Allen Kurta of Eastern Michigan University is serving as an advisor to Consumers Energy. So little is known about the bats because no banded or tagged bats have ever been returned. One theory is that the bats follow the shoreline.

Interestingly enough the bats are harmed most by wind turbines operating at low speeds. Only about half of bats killed by turbines are struck by the blades. The rest suffer hemorrhages in their lungs, apparently because of the pressure wave caused by the moving blades. Kurta said that this needs to be verified.

The bats are endangered due to habitat loss. Many of the caves that were natural homes to the Indiana Bats were developed as tourist attractions in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases this raised the cave temperature just enough to make them unsuitable for the small bats.

Indiana Bat pairs only produce one or two young a year. This is a slow reproduction rate and wind turbines may kill more bats each year than are born.

See Indiana Bats Dying from Mysterious Mold
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