On January 29, 2009, the Mississippi Bat Working Group held its seventh annual meeting at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, MS. There were 35 attendees representing eight state and federal agencies along with several non-profit organizations, private companies, and educational institutions.
9:00 – 9:30 am Registration
9:30 – 9:35 am Welcome – Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (MMNS)
9:35 – 9:45 am Introductions – Meeting coordinators and participants
9:45 – 9:50 am Meeting objectives – Chester Martin, Chair, MBWG, and Alison McCartney, Bureau of Land Management and Vice-Chair, MBWG
9:50 – 9:55 am MBWG activities for 2008, including bat happenings at the National and Regional level – Chester Martin
9:55 – 10:15 am MBWG summer mist net event 2006 – Alison McCartney
10:15 – 10:20 am Election of MBWG Secretary
10:20 – 10:30 am Teaming with Wildlife – Kathy Shelton, MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
10:35 – 10:45 am MBWG Website – Monica Wolters, Bowhead Information Technology Services
10:45 – 11:00 am Break (door prizes will be given)
11:00 – 11:30 am Discussion of future MBWG annual meetings and potential sites for the 2009 mist net event – Meeting coordinators and participants
11:30 – 11:45 am Additional business items/discussion – Coordinators and participants
11:45 – 1:00 pm Sponsored by MS Chapter of The Wildlife Society – Coordinators and particpants
1:00 – 1:30 pm Rafinesque’s big-eared bat / southeastern myotis status review – Shauna Ginger, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Jackson, MS
1:30 – 1:50 pm Bat blitzin’ in the South – Darren Miller, Weyerhaeuser Co.
1:50 – 2:10 pm Stable isotope analysis: what can it do for you? – Eric Britzke, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
2:10 – 2:30 pm Cavity temperature of water tupelo trees as a possible effect on roost site selection by Rafinesque’s big-eared bats – Chris Rice and Kim Tolson, The University of Louisiana at Monroe
2:30 – 2:50 pm Seasonal use of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats and southeastern myotis in bottomland hardwoods of Mississippi – David Richardson, US Fish and Wildlife Service
2:50 – 3:10 pm The artificial roost structure program on US Forest Service lands in southern Mississippi – David Beckett, University of Southern Mississippi
3:10 – 3:30 pm Meeting summary and discussion of priority issues
3:30 pm Adjourn
The 7th Annual Meeting of the MBWG was held at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (MMNS) in Jackson, MS on January 29, 2009. There were 35 attendees at the meeting representing the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), US Forest Service (FS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Wildlife Services, Weyerhaeuser Co., National Audubon Society, Bowhead Information Technology Services, The University of Mississippi, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of Bristol, U.K. The meeting was sponsored by the Mississippi Chapter of The Wildlife Society and Fordice Construction, Vicksburg. MMNS served as the host.
Chester Martin, MBWG Chair, and Alison McCartney, MBWG Co-Chair, served as meeting coordinators. Charles Knight, Assistant Director, MMNS, provided a welcoming address, and Chester stated meeting objectives. Participants then introduced themselves and their affiliations. The agenda included a business meeting, presentations on bat conservation and management projects, and an open session on priority issues. Discussion items and presentations titles are listed in the agenda (above).
The morning session included election of a Secretary-Treasurer. Mandy Like (previously Mandy Callender) was the Secretary on record but was not able to continue in that position following a recent move to a new job in Texas. The MBWG office of Secretary was changed to Secretary-Treasurer due to a need to maintain more accurate records of budget items. Stephanie Steele, FS Holly Springs, was unanimously elected.
The business meeting and open session included discussions of the 2009 MBWG Annual Mist Net Event, bat exclusion issues, revision of charter and by-laws, incorporation as a tax-exempt organization, location of future MBWG annual meetings, and other topics as summarized below.
- 2009 MBWG Mist Net Event: The group reviewed past MBWG mist net events and discussed potential sites for 2009. Possible locations mentioned included the Tombigbee National Forest/Columbus area, Holly Springs, and the Grenada/Enid Lake area. It was noted that sites in the Strawberry Plains/Holly Springs region had previously been examined, but the area appeared to lack adequate net sites. At least 10 good net sites are needed for a successful event. The event is usually held in mid-June or mid-July and costs approximately $3,000. A registration fee may or may not be requried, depending on sponsor donations. Potential sponsors were discussed. The Board will further investigate potential locations and dates and report back to the membership at a later date.
- 2009 SBDN Bat Blitz: The 209 SBDN Bat Blitz is scheduled for 11-14 August on Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri. Participation is often limited due to high interest in the event.
- 501(c) 3 Status: The need to acquire 501(c)3 tax-exempt status for the working group was discussed. Debra Freeman, USACE Enid Lake, agreed to follow up on the matter and work with Board members to get it in place.
- Charter and By-Laws: The MBWG charter is in need of revision, to include by-laws and change of the existing Secretary position to that of Secretary-Treasurer. Chester will begin working on this change and coordinate revisions with the Board.
- Bat Exclusions: Susan Murray, new MMNS employee, stated that she has been getting calls from home owners wanting help with bat exclusions, but she didn’t know who to refer them to. Alison replied that she knew persons qualified to exclude bats professionally and would get that information to Susan and others who need it. She further state that for large jobs APHIS should be contacted.
- Genetic Studies: Susan Murray also stated that she was interested in population genetics studies. MMNS has initiated a frozen tissue collection program, and she needs tissue samples. The immediate objective is to compare migratory vs. non-migratory populations of selected species.
- MBWG Website: There were several questions regarding the new website. Members suggested several ideas, including exclusion information and bat house designs for people who want to attract bats to their property. It was noted that Bat Conservation International (BCI) has bat house information on their website. There were other suggestions for links and photos. Monica Wolters encouraged members to provide her with photos of events, etc. Participants were reminded that there is a link to our website on the SBDN website.
- Artificial Roost Structures: There are several questions regarding the application of artificial roost structures, primarily for Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. Dave Beckett, USM, reported that Defenders of Wildlife were presently working with USM and the Forest Service to provide modified concrete structures for Forest Service lands. They will be putting up 20+ bat roosts in the near future. All will be concrete because wooden structures previously constructed were never used.
- WRP Program: Glynda Clardy, NRCS, suggested that the WRP (Wetlands Reserve Program) may be an opportunity to create habitat for Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. However, the program focuses on restoration of bottomland hardwoods in areas previously converted to cropland, and many years of growth will be required to produce trees large enough to be used by big-eared bats. Another concern is that no permanent structures (e.g., concrete) are allowed on restoration sites. Shauna Ginger noted that the MBWG can provide conservation recommendations for WRP projects before implementation.
- National/Regional Issues: Major national concerns for bat populations include White Nose Syndrome affecting cave-dwelling bats in the Northeast and probable increase in construction and placement of turbines for wind energy production. There are presently links to papers and presentations on these issues on the SBDN website. A wind energy website will be held in conjunction with the Western Bat Working Group Conference in Austin, TX on April 12-13, 2009.
- SBDN Meeting: The group was reminded that the 2009 SBDN Annual Meeting will be held in Jonesboro, AR on February 12-13, 2009. The Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat 3rd Annual Meeting will be held at the same location on February 11. Several MBWG members will be attending these meetings. Alison will serve as co-organizer for the big-eared bat meeting.
- Combined MBWG/TWS Meeting: An active discussion ensued regarding a previous proposal to combine the MBWG Annual Meeting with the Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Members tended to be strongly in favor or opposed to the recommendation and advantages and disadvantages were voiced by many. Concerns include meeting time and location, registration fee, game vs. non-game emphasis, and loss of group autonomy. Benefits of a combined meeting include increased visibility for the MBWG, greater interaction with other state wildlife professionals, and reduction in time and travel required for attending separate meetings. A possible resolution that might be attractive to most members would be a MBWG meeting held at the same location the day before the TWS meeting. MBWG participants would then be encouraged to give bat presentations in TWS sessions. Dave Richardson was tasked by Chester to prepare a position paper with options to present to the Board.
- Publications: Chester encouraged members to make an effort to publish results of their studies in peer-reviewed journals. Much of the recent research in Mississippi is currently hidden in the gray literature and not readily available for reference.
The following action items were identified for the group:
- Plan for the 2009 MBWG Mist Net Event
- Revise charter and by-laws
- Complete 501(c)3 process and other paperwork required by BLM
- Work on getting new sponsors
- Increase participation by the membership at large
- Publish results of projects in peer-reviewed publications
- Office and Board elections will take place at the 2010 Annual Meeting
The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 pm