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Calling all New Jersey bat lovers

indianabat022010_optBY MICHELE S. BYERS

WANTED: 15 progressive landowners to take part in an innovative project to protect New Jersey bats. No experience necessary, but must have suitable forest land, a desire to help an endangered species and a love of bats! All expenses paid, with possible eligibility for tax benefits under a new state law.

You may not know that New Jersey is home to nine bat species, including the federally endangered Indiana bat. During the summer, Indiana bats live in forests and wooded wetlands, where they roost and raise their young hidden under the loose bark of certain trees. Their ideal roost is near water, which helps provide the bats with abundant tasty insects.

Among the states with Indiana bats, New Jersey has relatively few — perhaps only 600 to 700. They've been found across northern New Jersey and are known to hibernate in the Hibernia and Mt. Hope Mines in Morris County.

Bats are incredibly beneficial to people and to our environment. Unfortunately, more than half of America's bats are in severe decline. In additional to the "normal" pressure caused by habitat loss from development, bats have been devastated by a new disease dubbed White-nose Syndrome, which threatens entire hibernating colonies.

White-nose Syndrome was confirmed in New Jersey last year, and is present in both the Hibernia and Mt. Hope sites. Its impact is stunning. Based on recent bat counts, it's estimated that 94 percent of these bats may have died. Counts that usually number in the 30,000s are down to 1,700 this winter. The only silver lining is that bats surviving hibernation normally recover over the summer.

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is seeking 15 landowners with suitable forest land who are willing to conduct forest management practices and install artificial roosts to benefit Indiana bats, as well as our more common bats. Over a five-year period, the landowners would monitor the sites, both visually and using acoustic devices to record and identify species by their echolocation calls. Acoustic monitoring allows for passive study, without disturbing the animals.

Through a New Jersey Landowner Incentive Program grant, property owners will receive $1,500 for labor and materials related to forestry practices, and for construction and installation of four artificial roosting structures.

Dr. Emile DeVito, Manager of Science and Stewardship for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, explains the relevance of the project to New Jersey's recently passed Forest Stewardship Act, which provides incentives for landowners to improve their health of their forests: "Typically people don't consider constructing habitat for endangered species when they manage their property. They look at satisfying the old-fashioned farmland assessment requirements, which typically mean cutting down perfectly healthy trees."

Under the Forest Stewardship Act, landowners can get a property tax break if they actively manage their land for natural resource benefits, including endangered species protection.

If you have forested property, you could be one of the 15 landowners picked to work with Conserve Wildlife to help with New Jersey's endangered bats. Learn more about the Conserve Wildlife bat project at

Michele S. Byers is executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!-- document.write( '</' ); document.write( 'span>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!-- document.write( '</' ); document.write( 'span>' ); //--> for more information about conserving New Jersey's precious land and natural resources, and consult the New Jersey Conservation Foundation's website at


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Comments (3)
3 Wednesday, 13 July 2011 21:56
Peg Soden
Just today, my neighbor closed off a bat roost located under his roof. It's not an attic and there's no access to it. It's like a crawl space area between the roof and ceiling of the apartment below. I had intended on having the ones on my side (our duplexes are attached) removed by waiting until late August when the babies are flying and having a 1-way door installed. It lets all the bats out, but they can't get back in. There are at LEAST 60 bats on my neighbor's side. I'm in a panic trying to get him to open it back up. All those bats are locked in and will die, creating an even bigger problem. I wish someone would help. The DEP won't and neither will the Div. of Fish & Wildlife. I'm calling the Bd. of Health in the morning and the housing officer (since he rents it out) in the morning, but I'm afraid by the time they get him to remove it, they'll be dead. Can anyone tell me who else I could call. This is an emergency.
2 Thursday, 22 April 2010 13:23
Margit Meissner-Jackson
My 1-acre property is in Eagleswood Township. The property has a wooded section along a small creek with an area that has exposure of at least 6 hours of sunshine per day--right behind my solar panels--and grassland. It is certified as a National Wildlife Habitat. Therefore I would be very much interested in including habitat protection for bats.
There are a number of 100-year-old homes which used to have bats in their attics for generations. And many of the bats have disappeared. Whether this occurred because of the white-nose disease or is the result of heavy spraying for mosquito control has not been determined.
Financial help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Margit Meissner-Jackson
114 Division Street
West Creek, NJ 08092
1 Monday, 15 March 2010 15:37
joanne pannone
We are very interested in working with you to help the bats. I am adjacent to preserved land of West Windsor along the Assunpink Creek and have a 7 acre woodlot. I don't think I need any funding, just would like to participate.

Thank you,
Joanne Pannone
215 Meadowbrook Road
Robbinsville, NJ

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