Looking after long-tailed bats:
Council recognises that long-tailed bats have the highest ranking in the New Zealand threat classification system as being a nationally critical threatened species. Hamilton is unique as it is one of the only urban environments in the country with long-tailed bat populations living in the city.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the Council have been conducting environmental research into bat behaviour as part of the Southern Links transport project south of the city. The tracking and monitoring programme was undertaken by specialist bat ecologists and we've already added new information to what was already thought about bat habitats and flight patterns.
The research is already adding new information to what was previously thought about bat habitats and flight patterns for the long-tailed bat, one of two native bat species surviving in New Zealand.
Among the findings has been the confirmation that bats are roosting in man-made roosting boxes – referred to as 'bat houses'. This is the first-time detailed recordings have been made of groups of bats using the artificial houses in Hamilton.
The Department of Conservation was engaged with on this work and contributed extra resources to extend the tracking programme to increase the amount of data gathered.
The first 80 of 100 artificial bat roosts or 'bat boxes' have now been installed to provide roosting opportunities for critically-threatened long-tailed bats (pekapeka-tou-roa). (Picture of bat box being installed from recent newsletter)
As well as standard Kent-style wooden bat boxes, we've imported 10 German-made Schwegler bat boxes as a trial. Long term monitoring will help us understand whether bats show any preference for the type or location of artificial roosts and inform how we use bat boxes in the future.
Bats don't stop at the borders of Peacocke, so Council is working with our neighbouring councils, agencies and partners to commence the development of a regional bat plan which will help agencies collaborate on data and information to support enhancement of long-tailed Bat populations.