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In 2007 we identified a need from local wildlife biologists, natural resource managers, and consultants for training in assessment and research techniques for the study and management of bats, with a special focus on endangered Indiana myotis. With sponsorship from Bat Conservation International (BCI), the PA Bureau of State Parks, and the PA Game Commission, we conducted a three-day, weekend workshop near Pittsburgh, PA at Shawnee State Park, a 4,000 acre park in Pennsylvania’s scenic Ridge and Valley Region. The course combined lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and field trips specifically designed to highlight bat conservation and management techniques appropriate for the investigation of Indiana bat habitat and population dynamics. The workshop activities were designed to provide one-on-one and small-group instruction, guided field experiences, and lectures, discussions, and presentations relevant to the study and management of Indiana myotis. The event was held Friday 9 May thru Sunday 11 May 2008 and was attended by 25 participants from PA and surrounding states.

Workshop Location
The workshop location at Shawnee State Park was chosen to highlight the Indiana myotis resources in the park discovered during the 2007 spring season when several bats were tracked out of hibernation and found to use shagbark hickory tree roosts at the Park. The area provides excellent roosting and foraging resources for Indiana myotis and is likely home to all nine species of bats regularly encountered in Pennsylvania. The nearly 4,000 acre park includes a large lake, several creeks and streams, as well as wood lot and forest resources containing numerous species of hickory, oak, and maple with suitable roosting cavities for tree-dwelling bat species. It is near the South Pennsylvania Railroad Tunnel, an important hibernacula for all six species of bats that hibernate in the Pennsylvania.

Staff
John Chenger of Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. (BCM), led a team of BCM staff during all study and capture technique components at this workshop. He has been catching bats for over 17 years and radio tracking bats since 2000. In 2007 alone, he and his staff have conducted over 250 nights of netting and trapping in conjunction with surveys and monitoring projects in six states. Also in 2007 BCM completed four Indiana bat radio telemetry studies including two during spring and fall migration periods near Shawnee State Park.

This workshop was co-led by Janet Tyburec, B.A., (Trinity University, San Antonio TX). Janet was Director of Education Programs at Bat Conservation International, Inc (Austin TX) for 15 years. She is currently a contract instructor for Bat Conservation International’s “Bat Conservation and Management Training Workshops” in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and California where she teaches wildlife biologists, educators, and other professionals field skills for bat research and conservation. She’s worked in Pennsylvania since 1994 and dreams about the day that Myotis sodalis can be down-listed.

State Parks and Game Commission staff, Dave Young and Cal Butchkoski respectively, provided additional instruction about the local area and state conservation and research initiatives involving Indiana myotis.

BCM also retained the services of five “wranglers” to assist with the netting and trapping activities, to help coordinate radio-tracking simulations, and to handle all field details to help the workshop run smoothly. Wranglers were selected from BCM staff that had intimate knowledge of and experience with the equipment and research techniques used during the course. This allowed the participants to be split into smaller groups for the field activities so they could receive more one-on-one instruction and attention.

Program
Lecture/Discussions: Primary staff (listed above) provided all lectures and led discussions and demonstrations on: Capturing Bats with Mist Nets, Identifying Pennsylvania Bats, Data Recording and Bat Processing. Deploying Mist Nets, Identifying Threats to Bats, Bat Detectors and Acoustic Monitoring, Capturing Bats with Harp Traps, Setting Harp Traps, Advanced Bat Research Techniques, Studying Bats w/Radio Telemetry, Assessing Bat Habitats, Assessing Bat Hibernacula, Managing Cave and Mine Habitats, and Case Studies of Myotis sodalis Migrations in PA and the Mt. Hope & Hibernia Projects in NJ.

Demonstrations: Staff and wranglers led demonstrations on: (1) single-, double-, and triple-high mist net deployment, (2) triple-high mist net rigging and use, (3) harp trap assembly and deployment, (4) acoustic monitoring techniques using AnaBat (FD) and Pettersson (TE) detectors, (5) echolocation call recording using AnaBat and SonoBat software programs, (6) hand-release protocols for obtaining reference calls of bats including light-tagging and zip-lining, (7) simulated radio-tracking demonstrations for locating bat roosts, (8) simulated radio-tracking demonstrations for following foraging and/or migrating bats, and (9) radio-transmitter activation procedures.

Field Trips: Staff and wranglers cooperated to: (1) lead afternoon field trips to assess habitat for netting and trapping activities, (2) conduct evening field inventories using nets, traps, and acoustic capture, (3) perform radio-tracking simulations as listed above, and (4) coordinate bat identification and release activities after each evening’s capture effort.

Handouts: Participants received the following materials and references to enhance their participation: (1) Indiana Myotis, Biology and Management of an Endangered Species proceedings, (2) Guide to Cave Bats of the Eastern U.S., (3) BCI membership brochure, (4) Dichotomous key to the bats of Pennsylvania, and (5) Annotated key to the hibernating bats of Pennsylvania. All participants also received copies of the agenda, participant and staff contact list, name tags, a list of what to bring and how to prepare for the course, and evaluations to complete at the end of the event to provide a vehicle for assessing the success of the workshop and for planning future programs.

What participants had to say...
“Take the course, it is well worth it.”

“Expect a full couple of days.”

“I would highly recommend this course to colleagues.”

“The entire workshop was a complete success. It was obvious a lot of thought had been given to setting up the class agenda and outdoor activity locations. The diversity of topics and hands-on experiences covered was appropriated for the duration of the workshop.”

“Be sure to get pre-exposure rabies vaccination to take full advantage of the activities.”

“I learned more about bats and bat conservation this weekend than I ever expected.”

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Questions may be directed to:
John Chenger or
Janet Tyburec

Bat handlers in the Study Techniques Workshop must have rabies pre-exposure vaccination. If you do not produce a vaccination receipt during check in, you will not be permitted to handle bats.

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Hands on SonoBat/Petersson and
ANABAT acoustic recorders

Hands on setting and running mist
nets up to triple high in size

Advanced radio telemetry
techniques demonstrated

Bat Study Techniques Workshop
With Special Focus on the Endangered Indiana Bat
Shawnee State Park • May 9-11, 2008