September 19, 2019
For the first time, pregnant Northern long-eared bats have been captured on the South Carolina coastal plain.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff captured three pregnant Northern long-eared bats, a federally threatened species, in late April at Santee Coastal Reserve and Wildlife Management Area in Charleston County.
Finding heavily pregnant females in late April suggests pups are likely born in early May, approximately one month earlier than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests average pup season begins (June 1).
Pregnant females used roosts under live bark in sun-exposed longleaf pines. These females switched roosts daily, but distances between roosts only ranged between 5 and 1,500 feet. This longleaf pine habitat varies greatly from Upstate roosts recorded before White-nose Syndrome decimated Northern long-eared bat populations in the northern portions of their range.
Since the discovery of Northern long-eared bats on the South Carolina coastal plain in 2016, a total of 33 Northern long-eared have been netted to date thanks to the people and organizations working to understand this species’ distribution and habitat in the state. This research will help inform management for this WNS-affected species in coastal areas where they seem to be surviving thus far.