Northeast Region Features
Conserving the Nature of America

The interior of a bunker with roosting substrate. The refuge monitored and managed temperature and humidity in multiple bunkers to mimic conditions found in caves and mines in the northeast.
Credit: Steve Agius/USFWS

Retired military bunkers used as artificial bat hibernacula at Aroostook Refuge in Maine

To combat mortality rates of little brown bats, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies have investigated the potential for using decommissioned military bunkers on national wildlife refuges as artificial hibernacula for imperiled bats that are affected by White-Nose Syndrome, a disease that is responsible for 75 to 90 percent declines in the species population since 2007. In December 2012, 30 hibernating little brown bats were collected from two hibernacula in New York and Vermont and placed in a bunker for hibernation at Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Limestone, Maine. In March 2013, biologists entered the caves to assess the results of the project. Although there was mortality among the bats, this project has demonstrated that abandoned military bunkers can be managed to create suitable habitat for hibernating little brown bats and may provide a useful strategy to conserve bats affected by White-Nose Syndrome. 

Learn more
Press release
View photos from the project

Published on: Tuesday, April 09,2013

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