Getting batty on Orcas!

How one species of bat became permanent residents of Moran State Park

By studying the bat species the San Juan Islands, KWIAHT is gaining a better understanding of the species that make up the bat population. Conducting acoustic surveys allows bat species to be identified and protected.

The San Juan Islands contain many unique wildlife but among those, the bat population may be one of the most interesting. Due to a surplus in moths and other insects bats enjoy, the San Juan Islands make a wonderful home to a large and thriving bat population. We know so much about this intriguing population thanks to the studies done by KWIAHT, which means "clean place" in the Native American language of the Central Sound, and whose goal is to connect islanders of the San Juans to their environment. Thanks to a survey done by KWIAHT in 2014, we know that between San Juan, Lopez, and Orcas Island, there are at least nine species of bats across the islands. Of these nine species, there are five Myotis or mouse-eared species and four, larger bats species. There are six species currently known to inhabit Orcas Island, The temperate climate and sizable moth population on Orcas makes the island an excellent habitat for these bat species.

In Moran State Park, the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifungus) is very common but the species itself is one of more rare in this area. Because of this, when a maternity colony was found to be utilizing the CCC buildings and home of the ranger, KWIAHT assisted the park in finding more suitable lodgings. The KWIAHT team donated a bat house behind the CCC building in the hopes of attracting the bats away from the park office and into a building of their own. With this, KWIAHT planned on also having a bat camera installed in the bat house so that patrons could watch the nesting mothers. Female bats will return to the same place year after year to give birth so by introducing them to the bat house, they will continue to use the building for their future litters of pups. KWIAHT continues to survey Moran in the hopes of learning more about the bats that inhabit the area.



Sample of an acoustic survey wav / 5.51 MB Download