Alaska Department of Fish and Game is taking help of volunteers of Petersberg and Southeast Alaska community to count bat population in the region. They have been working on the project since 2014. They are working round the clock to get the accurate data of bat population before bat disease affects Alaska.
Sunny Rice, a marine advisory agent with Alaska Sea Grant, began a survey 45 minutes past sunset in late June. She attached a magnetic cylindrical recording device connected to the roof of her car and traveled toward down dirt logging roads. A wire from the device was coupled with a GPS tracker in the car. GPS tracker is a surveillance device which uses Ground Positioning System to track an object.
Her car was used as an object to track and the recording device was used to take snapshots with the help of high-frequency sound to navigate and hunt for prey. Alaska’s Fish and Game department, at that time, was taking the bigger picture of the region affected with bat population.
Sunny Rice headed down the logging road and kept wandering at National Forest land in the middle section of Mitkof Island, in a hope to hear some bats. At the end of the survey, Rice heard the sound of 30 bats around the region. As the project has been running since 2012, there are more surveys to be taken from different areas to avoid bat disease.
Torry Rhodas, a biologist from Fish and Game Department, is monitoring all the surveys. He said, “since we only know of 10 bat overwintering rest place in the whole state, it’s really hard for us to monitor for white-nose syndrome, which is why one of the key things we’re focusing on is locating more of these areas.”