Bronson Curry and Jackie Jeffery are spending their summer studying the northern yellow bat as part of a full-time bat conservation internship with Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section.  Primarily working on the barrier islands of Georgia, the interns have been working 10-hour-plus days, doing everything from mist-netting bats, taking Anabat samples, searching for bat roosts, and conducting radio-telemetry and data entry in various conditions.  The following blog post is an account of their experiences at the start of the internship.

By: Bronson Curry, Bat Conservation Intern

One of the northern yellow bats the interns have been tracking.

After arriving at the Sapelo Island ferry dock in the afternoon and crossing the waterway, our bat conservation internship began with a crash course in mist netting and island botany. Over the next few days, we caught several species of bats, but no yellows — meaning our plastic bag of transmitters (tiny beacons weighing less than a gram each) remained sealed and our telemetry equipment rested in the back of the truck. For over a week we opened our nets each night, hoping to find a yellow bat, but found none. With the full moon and temperatures in the low 60s, conditions were not ideal for netting on the Georgia coast. For two nights in a row we closed our nets without a single bat capture.

There are two islands on our list to visit this summer, so we decided it was time to try our luck on Little St. Simons. We came over on the afternoon ferry, and were soon on our way to a small pond where bats had been caught before. We put up our nets with renewed hope, and didn’t have to wait long. The first bat to run into our nets was the prize we’d been seeking: a northern yellow bat: Lasiurus intermedius.

Interns Jackie Jeffery and Bronson Curry work in the dark of night to place a transmitter on a yellow bat.

We attached a transmitter to the bat, and then he was on his way again. The device emitted a regular pulse that came through our receiver as a steady beep. The next day, we followed the signal into the woods, until we reached the source: an arching live oak branch thickly draped with Spanish moss. Our bat had found a safe place to sleep until nightfall, and we had our first point of data.

The following night brought us two more yellow bats, and soon two more transmitters were active and chirping away. We shouldered our collapsible antennas and headed out to begin the second phase of our project, tracking the bats back to their day-roosts. Soon it was time to split up; one crewmember remained on Little St. Simons to track the bats already tagged, while the others returned to Sapelo to take up the search again. Shortly, another transmitter went live on Sapelo. We are now tracking four individuals to during the day and continue our efforts to catch more during the night. We hope to learn more about this unique bat as we also learn first-hand about the unique ecology and beauty of Georgia’s barrier islands.

Note: The interns are now tracking five northern yellow bats total.