Bat Flies 418 miles PA to Kentucky

Gregory Vellner

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A diminutive female bat – she weighs that of 10 paper clips and has a wingspan of 3.5 to 5.5 inches -- has migrated a single-season record of 418 miles from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which said the journey bodes well for the endangered species

The Indiana species bat flew from her summer roost in southwestern Pennsylvania to winter caves in Carter County, Kentucky, said Greg Turner, Mammalogist, the Game Commission. He said the commission earlier had attached bright orange bands to the wings and a 21-day transmitter to the back of the state- and federally endangered species to document migration. The longest migration for the species previously was 320 miles.

Because the mammal’s presence at winter hibernation sites – called hibernacula – continues to plummet in southwestern Pennsylvania, the commission wanted to track migration, said Turner. The long-distance travel of the Indiana bat is encouraging because it might indicate hibernation is occurring elsewhere, he said.

“We know we lost a lot of bats from white-nose syndrome, but with the Indiana bat, it’s possible the mortality wasn’t as bad overall,” said Turner, in response to the migration findings. The deadly syndrome, he said, caused populations of six bat species in the stat to be virtually wiped out about a decade ago.

“The fact we have four to five sites in the Midwest where the population didn’t decline may be evidence that some of the survivors have returned back to their core range,” said Turner.

Turner said the Indiana species no longer is found hibernating in a mine straddling Armstrong and Butler counties in Pennsylvania, and he said that only four to five individual Indiana bats are known now to hibernate in Somerset and Fayette counties. He said more than 100,000 bats of various species once hibernated at the locations.

Turner said the Game Commission will continue to study bat population declines and look for ways to avoid a species’ elimination.

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A brown bat flying overhead.Unsplash

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

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