The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers interested in performing night time surveys for bats in Hamilton and Marshall counties.
The survey monitors bat occurrence in key areas of the state. It began in response to declining bat population from White Nose Syndrome, among other challenges.
This survey uses acoustic recording equipment mounted on top of a car to detect bats along specific driving routes. Data have been collected on some of these standardized survey routes for the last seven years. Some new routes are being added as well as some stationary sites where equipment is left out for several nights. Volunteers will be responsible for both conducting the driving survey and placing and retrieving stationary equipment. Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Biologist Stephani Shepherd says that they are not looking for specific breeds of bats.
Volunteers will need a vehicle and a partner to run the drive survey. Drive surveys need to be done twice within seven days during a two-week assigned window of time in July. The driving survey begins 30 minutes after sunset and takes roughly 2.5 hours. Those who are going on an extended camping trip would be ideal for the assignment.
The survey will require participants to be in a car together for at least five hours. Volunteers will participate in a training session prior to the survey where the survey coordinators will present the protocol they need to follow, in light of COVID 19. Stationary equipment should be put out prior to the first drive survey and left out until the second drive survey has been completed (a minimum of four nights).
Shephard assures prospective volunteers that you will not touch or have to watch for bats.
The total time commitment, including training, the two surveys, placing and retrieving stationary equipment and picking up and dropping off equipment, is roughly 12 hours. More details can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/vwmp/ as well as a link to an electronic volunteer interest form that should be completed if you’d like to volunteer.