We recently attended Summer Bat Walk, a program hosted at the Kelly Ranch in Gallatin County, Montana, by Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Land Reliance.

Did you know that bats save the agriculture industry nationwide $3 billion by eating insects? They do. Bats are a integral and critical part of our agricultural system.

With over 10,000 species, bats, of the order Chiroptera, count for over 20 percent of all mammal species in terms. Specifically in Montana there are 15 different species of bats. The Montana Field Guide shows visuals of where both migratory and year-round native bats live within the state.

There are many negative externalities threatening bats in Montana including:

  1. Wind energy development: 75 percent of documented bat mortalities are migratory foliage roosting species, which include the Hoary bat, Eastern Red bat, and Silver haired bat

  2. White nose syndrome: the disease has not been confirmed here yet, but there are confirmed cases in Wyoming and South Dakota

  3. People eradicating them from their attics: People often assume bats have rabies although in Montana less than 1 percent of bats in the wild are infected

After learning about bats at the Kelly Ranch, the event transitioned out to the Gallatin River where we were able to witness bats on the hunt. With the help of technology and Matt Bell (of Montana Land Reliance), we were able to identify bats by their species as the hunted near the river. Summer Bat Walk happens numerous times each summer all across Montana. To learn more, attend a bat walk in your area!