March 31, 2016 Lake George Bat Survey, Update
In late February, some researchers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) visited a cave near Lake George to survey for bats. The cave, which is on land protected by a conservation easement held by the LGLC, has historically been home to several species, including the little brown bat, which has been hit hard by white-nose syndrome.
In addition to three porcupines who took up residence, the researchers found: 6 little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), 1 tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), 16 small footed bats (Myotis leibii), 88 big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), and 1 northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). The Northern long-eared bat is listed as Threatened both in New York State and federally, and the tri-colored bat is quite rare.
Evidence of white-nose syndrome was seen on the northern long-eared bat and several others, although the researchers suggested that all of the bats were probably infected, even if they didn’t show visible signs. Fortunately, an experimental treatment was recently shown to cure bats infected with white-nose syndrome. While more research needs to be done, the results are incredibly hopeful! See the link below for more information.
The researchers also discovered evidence of recent human disturbance, including damage to the cave itself. People entering caves when bats are hibernating can be detrimental to these creatures—the disturbance may awaken the bats and cause them to lose necessary fat reserves that they rely on to survive. In addition, humans may inadvertently spread disease, such as the white-nose syndrome. New no-trespassing signs have been posted to deter any future disturbance to the cave and its inhabitants.