“Explorers For Bats” film shows how climbers can help save bats

White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats, named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other parts of the bats.  In eastern North America, bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines, in some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of bats have died. WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in the eastern states.

The disease has rapidly spread across the United States - since its first documentation in New York in 2006 it has now been confirmed on bats in 32 states.  The fungus is now found in some western states, and the goal in the western United States is to limit the spread.   

An important step to slowing the spread of disease and understanding how the disease is affecting bats is knowing where they live.  Because bats often live in cliffs, caves and hard to reach places, they can be difficult to find.  Outdoor enthusiasts including climbers and hikers, can play and important role by reporting their bat sightings.  A new film by Ravenswood Media, Explorers for Bats, explains how climbers and hikers can help document their sightings while at the same time, not harming the bats.  In the film, wildlife managers, bat experts and climbers are interviewed, each providing information about bat behavior, habitat use, populations in established climbing areas and how those who want to conserve outdoor recreation are invested in bat conservation. Climbers are provided with guidelines for when they encounter bats and also how they can climb in areas without contributing to the spread of the fungus.  The interviews take place in spectacular settings of Federal lands in Maine and Utah.

Ravenswood Media produced Explorers For Bats in collaboration with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Climbers for Bat Conservation, the National Park Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The film was funded by a grant from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, administered by the Wildlife Management Institute.