The endangered gray bats’ migratory habits are changing. As echos ring throughout our environment, humans must learn the vital lesson of coexistence.
The gray bat was not previously known to inhabit the state of North Carolina until 2016, when many were found roosting in various urban environments throughout the greater Asheville area; mostly under bridges. The gray bat has been on the endangered species list since 1976. Since the gray bats were discovered in Asheville, The Center for Bat Research, Outreach and Conservation at Indiana State University received a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a three year study of the distribution, habitat preferences and migration habits of the endangered species throughout North Carolina. Though the state is hollowed by over 900 caves, not a single bat has been tracked to roost extensively anywhere except the belly of a bridge. It makes sense the gray bat has taken refuge in a place that mocks a cavelike structure and is directly oriented over water because the gray bat has an affinity with water. It is where they forage at night and they follow rivers, like we do highways, as they migrate.
This discovery of gray bats in North Carolina shows that some populations are reinventing their traditional migration patterns and roosting habits. Whether this change has any relation to the outbreak of white nose syndrome is still unknown, but it is not uncommon for a species to adapt in face of major environmental change; it is how they survive.
A photo left in the car all summer melts, rendering the scenery vacant. The bareness of winter makes us lonely, but the birds nests are empty because of migration not abandon. Our notions of home are so tied to routine. Still, all creatures have ears or some way to listen; all have a way to change course and move through their environments in new ways. When a notion is omitted into the environment echos take shape.
produced, written, shot + edited by Rachel Darke
first runner up of the 2019 IFFB boston student short showcase