The Conservancy is entering its third year of research on bats living in Palmetto Bluff and there have already been some surprising discoveries. In November 2016, Conservancy researchers caught two northern long-eared bats, a species that is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in the River Road Preserve in Palmetto Bluff.
Northern long-eared bats had never been found in coastal South Carolina and the captures were so unexpected that fur samples were sent off to a genetics lab to confirm the identification. When the results came in, the Conservancy team and bat biologists throughout the U.S. were elated. A coastal population of northern long-eared bats might mean that the species could survive even as these bats disappear from habitats in the northern part of the state and other regions of the U.S., where a devastating disease known as white-nose syndrome is prevalent.
White-nose syndrome is a fungal infection that attacks hibernating bats, but on the coast, where the climate is milder and bats can be active year-round, the disease has yet to gain a foothold. The discovery of the northern long-eared bats at Palmetto Bluff was published in the March 2018 edition of the Southeastern Naturalist.
Click here to read the research report published by Southeastern Naturalist.
Click here to read the research report published by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.