Keystone Dam's Big Brown Bat Colony

Tuesday, October 31st 2006, 9:56 am
By: News On 6

Bats give most of us the creeps. Truth is, they are much misunderstood, and are really a most beneficial species. There's a good-sized colony of Big Brown Bats living at Keystone Dam.

A US Army Corps of Engineers park ranger is wrapping up a two year study of the colony and News on 6 reporter Rick Wells talked to him about what he's learned.

Something is living in the Keystone Dam, and that something is about 600 bats. There is a colony of 500 to 600 Big Brown Bats living under the state highway, which crosses the dam.

Park Ranger Lee Perry has been studying them for the past two years and took us up there to have a look.

The bats live in the joints between the concrete slabs that make up the highway. In order to get a look, Lee Perry had to loosen a drainpipe, and then we had to climb up and look up. "Could be as many as 150 bats in one crevice." You can many of them in the cracks. They are sleeping now.

Closer to sunset, they wake up hungry and ready to eat. "We wanna keep these bats around cause they are such ferocious insect eaters." Each one gobbles up more than a thousand bugs every night.

Farmers love them; they help with insect control.

The News on 6 followed him out on the Keystone Dam last week. Lee Perry was trying to catch a few to band 'em. He says they’re pretty misunderstood little animals. "Its not gonna fly into your hair, there is a vampire bat, but it doesn't suck human blood."

That’s good news. So when the moon is high and the bats are flying and feeding, you and I have almost nothing to worry about.

Big Brown Bats hibernate during the winter. No one is certain where this colony will "winter", but it will leave soon and return in early April.