Found: An Unusually Situated Bat Cave

The cave is large for Alberta’s boreal forest.

Bats in their bat cave.
Bats in their bat cave. Wildlife Conservation Society

The population of bats living in Alberta, Canada, is lucky: so far, the deadly white nose syndrome that’s wiped out other bat populations hasn’t devastated bats here. Scientists and conservationists are trying to make sure it stays that way: some of the province’s popular caves have been closed to human explorers for years now, in order to keep people from accidentally exposing the bats to the disease.

At the same time, bat researchers have recruited cavers to help understand how bats are using caves and mines. Recently, the Wildlife Conservation Society reports, the collaboration led to the discovery of the Alberta’s largest bat hibernation site outside of the Rocky Mountains.

The cave was formed by sulphuric acid dissolving bedrock, the group says, and scientists believe that a population of at least 200 endangered bats use it as a winter hibernaculum.  Compared to some large bat populations, this one is tiny, but it’s good news for bats in the region—it means that they may be finding safe places to spend the winter outside the mountains.