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Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)
The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967 due to episodes of people disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, resulting in the death of large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats). Other threats that have contributed to the Indiana bat's decline include commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat, pesticides and other contaminants, and most recently, the disease white-nose syndrome.
Indiana bats are found over most of the eastern half of the United States. Almost half of them hibernate in caves in southern Indiana. The 2009 population estimate was about 387,000 Indiana bats, less than half as many as when the species was listed as endangered in 1967.
Indiana bats are quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. Their fur is dark-brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During summer they roost under the peeling bark of dead and dying trees. Indiana bats eat a variety of flying insects found along rivers or lakes and in uplands.
White nose syndrome (WNS) is an illness that has killed over a million bats since 2006 when dead and dying bats, with the distinctive "white nose," were first observed. "White nose" refers to a ring of white fungus often seen on the faces and wings of affected bats. First observed in a cave in New York in February 2006, white-nose syndrome has spread from New York caves to caves in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Bats afflicted with white-nose syndrome have been found in over 25 caves and mines in the northeastern U.S. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has called for a moratorium on caving activities in the affected areas, and strongly recommends that any clothing or equipment used in such areas be decontaminated after each use.
2013 Rangewide Population Estimate (6-page PDF )
Species Profile (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's National Endangered Species Website)
Recovery is the process used to restore threatened and endangered species to the point that protection under the Endangered Species Act is no longer needed. The Endangered Species Act requires that a "Recovery Plan" be prepared for every listed species and that the status of every listed species is reviewed every five years (i.e., "Five-Year Reviews").
Indiana Bat Draft Recovery Plan; First Revision (258-page PDF; 1.4MB) - April 2007
Indiana Bat Five-Year Review (45-page PDF) - Sept. 2009
Private Stewardship Grant (May 2007): Restoring Southeast Michigan’s High Diversity Landscapes Through Collaborative Stewardship – Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Oakland, and Washtenaw Counties, Michigan
Private Stewardship Grant (May 2007): Reforestation and Wetland Restoration for Permanent Native Habitat in the St. Joseph River Watershed – Hillsdale County, Michigan; Defiance and Williams Counties, Ohio; Allen, Dekalb, and Noble Counties, Indiana – ($45,000*)
2006 S6 Grant Project - Mine Stability and Implications For Endangered Bat Conservation
Under Section 7, the Endangered Species Act directs all Federal agencies to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the Act. Section 7 of the Act, called "Interagency Cooperation," is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species.
When a species is listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Act), we must consider whether there are areas of habitat we believe are essential to the species’ conservation. Those areas may be designated as “critical habitat.” Some caves and mines have been designated as critical habitat for the Indiana bat because of their importance for hibernation. Below is information about a petition that we received to expand the critical habitat listing.
Finding on a Petition to Revise Critical Habitat
Buckeye Wind Power Project (Ohio) for Indiana Bat: HCP Approved; Permit Issued
Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants by State: Multistate: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio (Statewide) - Development of a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan for Wind Energy Development in the Midwest $3,362,364
Non-traditional S6 Grant: HCP for the Indiana Bat on Indiana State Forest Lands (State-wide): $375,000
Indiana Bat Habitat Conservation Plan for I-70 near Indianapolis International Airport
Videos of Indiana bats and their habitat - cavebiota.com
Indiana Bats, Kids, and Caves - Oh My! (an activity book for teachers)
Videos of Indiana Bats and their habitat - cavebiota.com
Bat Box Instructions (PDF)
Last updated: April 22, 2014