August 26, 2006

Mist Netting for Bats/Coal Mining

At the beginning of August, I had the opportunity to go mist-netting with wildlife biologists Dan and Judy Dourson. They had been contacted/contracted by a coal mining operation who wished to form another sludge pond in a valley next to the area where they were performing mountain top removal in order to access the strips of coal within the mountain. Before doing so, the company is legally bound to look for Indiana Bats, a federally endangered species before they can turn a thriving valley of lush vegetation and wildlife into an inhospitable and toxic waste pond. Driving in was quite possibly one of the most horrific sights I've seen in my life. Not 15 miles from my father's eden-like farm, there is a coal mining operation that covers hundreds if not thousands of acres where the beauty and greenness of my dear eastern Kentucky has been raped and turn barren by the hideous monstrosity of mountain-top removal. I nearly gagged as I watched truck after truck fill with coal--tons, but only enough to power two light bulbs for their lives. [After this experience, I read "Lost Mountain", a book by Eric Reece, and well worth your time, and I also changed several light bulbs in my house to compact flourescent bulbs which save energy (and therefore money and our environment)--I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO THE SAME].

The mist-netting itself was very interesting. Just before dark, we hurried to set up two sets of poles, 18 feet tall, 30 feet apart between which we hung mist-nets, fine netting that we hoped bats would get ensnared in. After just 30 minutes, a big brown bat had flown into the net and we unentangled it, measured it's forearm length, sexed it, determined its age, weighed it, tagged it, and listened to its vicious high-pitched doppler-like squeals of protest. We caught another big brown bat and saw a few other bats fly into the net but get away before we could get to them. Very cool.

Let's save these little guys by protecting their homes! We can really help make a difference simply by using less electric, opting for solar and wind generated power when/where available and asking our politicians to CARE about these issues.

[coal truck, mountain top removal--what it looks like, Judy at the bat-procedure station, the little guy himself]


emily said...

Alyssum, That sounds awesome. What is happening to eastern Kentucky and West Virginia is a travesty. Thank you for plugging using CFL's. Vince and I have switched over to them and even got our condo association to change all our outdoor bulbs to CFL's. We recycle cans to earn money for the bulbs, and we have seen the electric bill go down, which is a big deal when in the winter we have $30K gas bills just for a month.
But, the important question is, are you an aunt yet???

Anonymous said...

i love bats. i think they're so cute. kinda one of those animals with a "bad rap" or "rep" or whatever that word is.

i appreciate how you use your "skillz".

(i can't remember my blogger password to "sign in"!)