Endangered bats discovered near Spectacle Lake

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on December 18, 2019 with No Comments

As part of citizen science bat conservation partnership between the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed Group and Izaak Walton League’s Porter County chapter, two local groups organized monitoring surveys on conservation properties, public lands, and some private properties looking for evidence of bats in the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed.  They discovered something just south of Spectacle/Loomis Lakes near a proposed subdivision.

Recordings made with a high-frequency acoustic monitor from a property adjacent to a large area of mature forest near the south shore of Loomis Lake during August and September of this year detected hundreds of calls of local bats, including some federally endangered and state threatened species. The recordings, conducted by conservation ecologist Tamatha Paterson, are now in the process of being analyzed by professionals at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and findings are preliminary.

The conservation groups are alarmed at the prospect of losing any natural bat habitat at properties adjacent to the monitoring site which these bats are likely using for summer habitat. One such mature wooded parcel is being considered for the housing development, however, where mature forest likely provides a summer home to the federally endangered Indiana Bat, among others. Bats use the hallow cavities and loose bark of mature trees for roosting and rearing their pups.

The lakes support a diversity of insects that the bats feed on and help maintain a balanced, healthy environment.  Any change in habitat or drainage to the lakes could cause negative consequences for this foodchain and be harmful for the bats.

Gary Brown, president of the IWLA-PCC, said, “This is a significant find with major potential. Six bats are currently on the state endangered list–Grey, Little Brown, Northern Long-eared, Indiana, Tri-colored and Evening bats. All but the Northern Long-eared and Grey were recorded at the Valpo Chain of Lakes Group monitoring site. Our groups feel that the area surrounding the lakes should be guarded for those creatures as well.”

The Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed Group and Porter County Izaak Walton League have been working with the Neighbors of Spectacle Lake in hopes of saving the nearby property as a low-impact recreational park. Funds would have to be donated and many logistics negotiated before the property could ultimately be conveyed to the Porter County Parks or a land conservancy.

For further information, call or text Walt Breitinger at 219-477-7526 or Annette Hansen at 219-241-7431

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