Turkish Authorities Say: Let Sleeping Bats Lie


Photo via sirtrentalot at Flickr

Hibernating bats in Havran, near Turkey's Aegean coast, can rest easy this winter, thanks to a decision by local authorities to hold off on pumping water into a nearby dam reservoir, an action that would have flooded their cave.

One cave near newly completed Havran Dam is thought to hold 15,000 to 20,000 bats of eight or nine different species, the second largest colony in Turkey. According to a 2005 paper in the journal Zoology in the Middle East, "the species richness and the colony sizes qualify the site as an Important Mammal Area and would qualify it as a Special Area for Conservation, according to the Habitats Directive of the European Union."

Both cave and dam are in the heavily agricultural province of Balıkesir, where the dam, once operational, will provide water to 3,330 hectares of farmland. But the bats are important to local farmers too, hunting enough bugs to eliminate the need for chemical pesticides.

Pumping will be delayed for six months, until the bats wake up in April. They typically hibernate from mid-fall to mid-spring, when the insects they eat are scarce. Once they leave the cave, authorities will seal the entrance to prevent their return. An artificial cave the same size will be dug in the nearby hills and stocked with guano (droppings) to draw the bats to their new home. Via: "Taps to stay off until bats wake up," Turkish Daily News

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Tags: Animals | Bats | Dams | Turkey