Baby Got Bat!

Rather, the lesser long-nosed bats are having babies! According to a press release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a proposal has been submitted to delist the bat from the United States endangered species list, following a delisting from the Mexican endangered species list in 2015. With over half of the North American species of bats listed as threatened or endangered, this would mark an incredible return for one of them- the first bat to achieve a delisting status.

In 30 years the lesser long-nosed bat population has seen remarkable growth:

1988: fewer than 1,000 individuals were known at 14 roosting sites

2017: 200,000 bats (and growing!) are known at 75 roosts.

Photo: Merlin D. Tuttle

The population growth was not happenstance, rather, an international team assembled with very specific goals in mind to protect this delicate population. Agencies, organizations, and citizen scientists worked together to protect roosting sites and monitor populations. However, one group had a vested interest in mind: tequila producers. Lesser long-nosed bats follow a “nectar trail” when migrating and pollinate not only columnar cacti like organ pipe and saguaros, but also agaves. Bat conservation and identification efforts in Mexico have helped create positive attitudes towards these animals, which resulted not only in lesser long-nosed bat population growth but economic growth as well. The tequila producers are even marketing bat-friendly tequila now!

Photo: Merlin D. Tuttle

If delisted, the population will continue to be monitored for five years while educational campaigns remain active. We’ll drink to that! 

Pro tip: Want to see bats in Tucson? We recommend visiting the Campbell Avenue bridge at Rillito River or the Pantano Wash bridge near 22nd Street during the summer. Thousands of bats will fly out from under the bridges at dusk to begin their nocturnal foraging.

Did you know? Lesser long-nosed bats roost together in maternity wards! Learn more here.

Written by Catherine Bartlett, ASDM Education Specialist. 

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