skip to content
Dozens of brown bats with long ears attached to the roof of a cave in a cluster.
Information icon Cluster of Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus). Photo by Dave Riggs, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Searching for bat maternity colonies



Greetings and welcome to the Southern Appalachian Creature Feature.

What happened to the Lost Colony at Roanoke? Where is the Lost Dutchman Mine? Did Lee Harvey Oswalt act alone? Where do Grandfather Mountain’s female bats go in the summer? Tremendous mysteries all.

The caves of Grandfather Mountain serve as a hibernation site, or hibernaculum, for a group of endangered Virginia big-eared bats. What biologists are clueless about is where these bats go when it warms up. All Southern Appalachian bats migrate between their hibernacula and their summer roost sites, which are different for males and females, with females going somewhere to give birth and raise young.

This spring biologists will try to discover the location of the maternity colonies for the rare Grandfather Mountain bats. As bats leave the hibernation cave, a handful of females will be outfitted with tiny radio transmitters. By tracking where they pick up the signals and how strong the signals are, biologists should be able to uncover the maternity colony sites.

However, the landscape around Grandfather Mountain is rough and remote and littered with unknown caves, making tracking that signal especially challenging. Teams of biologists will fan out in cars and on foot to pick up the signal. Four temporary towers will be erected to pick up signals from passing bats. Setting this effort apart from previous, unsuccessful attempts, an airplane will be brought in to track the signal from above, where hopefully it won’t be blocked by the rough topography.

For WNCW and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, this is Gary Peeples.

Download the transcript.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

Contact Us:

Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson.

Share this page

Tweet this page on Twitter or follow @USFWSsoutheast

Share this page on Facebook or follow USFWSsoutheast.


Share this page on LinkedIn