Bats – The Gardner’s Good Friend

Thursday, March 15th at 1:00 pm
Birch Bay Village Inn, Bar Harbor

Bats – The Gardner’s Good Friend

According to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, “bats play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.” Fortunately, we can now get the scoop from experts based right here in Maine. The following three bat specialists are teaming up to share their experiences and answer your questions:

  • Chris Heilakka (Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife) is a key member of the bat study team working with marked bats. In fact, he is currently conducting a winter bat acoustic project in Acadia.
  • Lara Wilbur (Schoodic Institute Bat Compliance Specialist) is the primary contact for Schoodic and Acadia regarding compliance requirements for federal and state listed bats.
  • Erickson Smith (Schoodic Institute Bat Data Specialist) has conducted numerous bat exit and acoustic surveys as well as been involved in netting and finding marked bats.

This meeting is FREE and open to the public, but non-members are asked to reserve a seat. Refreshments will be served. 


RSVP by E-mail: rsvp@barharborgardenclub.com or Telephone: 460-8496.

Introduction to presenters:

Erickson Smith is the current Schoodic Institute Bat Data Specialist. Previously he was an Acadia NP Biological Technician. Erickson is a graduate of College of the Atlantic; he has worked on numerous wildlife and natural resource projects for the park and during his time at college. He has conducted numerous bat exit and acoustic surveys as well as been involved in netting and finding marked bats. His experiences also include working with beavers, monarchs, and various species of birds. He likes/plays music, is a world traveler, and has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

Lara Wilbur is a Schoodic Institute Bat Compliance Specialist. She also was previously an Acadia NP Biological Technician. She is a graduate of UMaine, and has worked on numerous wildlife and natural resource projects of the park and during her time at UMaine as an intern and research assistant. She has conducted numerous bat exit and acoustic surveys as well as being a key member of the bat live-trapping and relocation of marked bats. In addition to being the primary contact for Schoodic and Acadia regarding compliance requirements for federal and state listed bats, she also has worked on tick, bumble bee, monarch, and loons. She lives with her husband in Ellsworth, likes birding, and cares for many animals.

Notes Taken During this Program:

There are two types of bats: the Migratory Tree Bat (silver haired, hoary, red bats) and Hibernating Bats (little brown, northern long-eared, eastern small footed, tri-colored, big brown.) They like to nest in crevices and caves and come out in April.

Bats are challenging to study because they are so small, are nocturnal, their habitats are unsure, their numbers are unknown and few studies have already been done on them. They have a slow population growth (birth only one pup a year) and their migration strategies and locations are largely unknown. Their population has been decimated by an invasive fungus which grows on their skin in winter, itches and wakes them up during hibernation and they are unable to find food, starving to death. Recent studies have shown that UV treatment will kill the fungus.

Several kinds of bats are threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Northern Long-eared is on the national list and the little brown and eastern small footed are on Maine’s list. 65- 100% of the bat population in some areas has been wiped out and we have lost 95% of the Northern Long -eareds.

To tag a bat, mist netting is used. Telemetry in the form of a radio transmitter is place on the bat’s back for about 2 weeks before it falls off. For acoustics to record echo location, receivers and microphones are place in the park to hear them from sunset to sunrise. This tells researchers what species are using what parts of the park and when.

Maine’s bats are insectiverous. They dine on beetles, stink bugs, moths, leafhoppers, midges, flies, mosquitos, ants, crickets, spiders and more.

How can we help?

  • Plant night scented flowers, create a wet area or pond, create linear features like hedgerows and tree lines, put up bat houses (high up – bats need the height to take off, reduce or remove artificial lighting (which makes them more visible to predators like owls), and keep cats indoors at night.
  • Bat friendly flowers are bee balm, night phlox, swamp rose mallow, yarrow, mountain ash, St John’s wart, forget-me-nots, and small sundrops. Night scented flowers include white trillium, common witherod, summersweet, rue anemone, red baneberry/Doll’s Eyes.
  • Bat Houses – the darker colored the better; can be free standing or affixed. There are a variety of designs. Clean their homes when you can. It helps keep down the fungus.

Ann Rivers of Town Hill is a bat expert on MDI and a good resource.

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