Summit Metro Parks reporting a rare discovery -- a northern long-eared bat discovered in Twinsburg, the first time they've seen the endangered animal in five years. The northern long-eared bat has been hit hard by white nose disease, a fungus that claimed 90% of the bat population. Biologists attached a small transmitter and let her fly back to a colony she shares with brown bats.
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(Summit Metro Parks) Summit Metro Parks biologists captured a rare northern long-eared bat in Twinsburg earlier this month – the first sighting of the species by park staff in five years – and learned that it's living with a different species of winged mammal.
Biologist Marlo Perdicas said the federally endangered bat was found near Liberty Park. Summit Metro Parks manages 3,000 acres of the park that spans northeast Summit and northwest Portage counties. Much of it is in Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township.
"We have not seen a northern long-eared bat since 2012 due to the effects of white-nose syndrome," Perdicas said, referring to a disease that wakes up bats in winter, when there are no insects to consume. The fatal fungus has devastated bat populations across the eastern United States, including Northeast Ohio. "We have about 10 percent of the bats we used to have," Perdicas added.
The northern long-eared bat captured August 10, an adult female, was fitted with a transmitter and tracked back to her roost. "To our surprise, she is roosting with a colony of little brown bats," said Perdicas.
Perdicas explained that sort of grouping is unusual in summer as bats are roosting, but more common during hibernation. Bats hibernate in groups, and summer is coming to a close.
Hibernation for both species begins between September and October and can last as long as May.
The northern long-eared bat's range is the eastern United States and Canada, while the little brown bat's range includes most of North America. Northern long-eared bats, on average, tend to be slightly smaller than little brown bats.
Eight different bat species have been recorded in Summit County: northern long-eared, little brown, Indiana (another federally endangered species), big brown, tri-colored, silver-haired, hoary and red.