There are more than 1,000 bat species worldwide and Virginia holds about 17 of them. 3 of them are considered federally endangered. However, people are more likely to see three of the non-protected species which are the Little Brown Bat (Myotis Lucifugus), the Big Brown Bat (Epitesicus Fuscus), and the Evening Bat (Nycticeius Humeralis). Bats have a profound effect on the environment as they act as pollinators as well as insect control when they hunt at night. In Virginia, the bats here primarily eat mosquitoes and other small insects and they can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night.
Trees as well as commercial/residential areas can be equally desirable for a bat to live in as they do not need much space to claim as their dwelling. Since bats are social creatures, they will colonize in these areas and can amount to hundreds. They have rather poor eyesight and use echo location to find their way around as well as using it to find food. Unfortunately, more and more bats have been recently being killed by wind turbines. They actively approach the turbines thinking that they are trees that could provide them with shelter and food when the blades were either slow or stationary. Strong gusts of wind spin the faster causing a large number of bat deaths. Researches say that bats may not have the cognitive capacity to discern the wind turbine from a tree. Approximately over 600,000 bat deaths have been estimated due to wind turbines.
Photo from: Earthtimes.org
Scientists speculated that one possible solution could be to alter the appearance of the wind turbines. They deduced that the bats saw the base pole of the turbine as a tree trunk while the blades resembled branches. Adding lights to these turbines would possibly lessen the bats to mistaken them as trees. Wind farm operators could also be asked to operate only when high winds were present. This would prevent strong gusts of wind to make the blades reach lethal speeds during low wind downtime.
Post by Christopher Lee
Gosden, E. (2014, September 14). Bats lured to deaths at wind farms ‘because they think turbines are trees’. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/windpower/11128511/Bats-lured-to-deaths-at- wind-farms-because-they-think-turbines-are-trees.html
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. (n.d.). Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bats/facts/