STATE: WRC requests public support of endangered bat 

Published 1:02 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) invites the public to review and comment on a draft Virginia Big-Eared Bat Conservation Plan. The Virginia big-eared bat (VBEB) is a federally- and state-listed endangered species found in North Carolina (primarily Avery and Watauga counties), Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. It was federally listed in 1979 due to habitat loss, vandalism of caves and increased human visitation to maternity roosts and hibernation areas. These bats are extremely sensitive to human disturbance. 

The Conservation Plan outlines long-term protections to encourage VBEB population growth through protection of its maternity and hibernation sites. The plan includes continued monitoring and research of the species and maintaining its caves. In addition, the plan specifies actively protecting VBEB’s foraging habitats through land acquisition, partnerships and NCWRC’s Conservation Land Program for private landowner participation. 

“We are happy to complete this Conservation Plan for the Virginia big-eared bat so NCWRC’s current and planned conservation actions can be implemented for this imperiled species. We look forward to partnerships with private landowners, NGOs and other agencies to bring about success,” said Sara Schweitzer, assistant chief of NCWRC’s Wildlife Management Division. 

VBEBs are docile and look very similar to the Townsend’s big-eared bat, a species found throughout the western U.S. It has 1-inch ribbed ears and lumps on its nose and is capable of hovering and swift flight.

“Virginia big-eared bats are vital for our ecosystems because they feed on insects, which helps keep insect populations in check,” said Katherine Etchison, NCWRC’s Wildlife Diversity biologist.