TAMMS — Bats looking to spend the colder months in the Magazine Mine in Tamms can sleep easy this winter. Their hibernaculum is being donated to the Organization for Bat Conservation.
A media release announced the donation Friday. The release said Unimin, the current owner of the mine, will transfer mineral rights to the OBC for scientific purposes.
The donation will be made “to enable the continuing education and environmental study of bat populations in their natural habitat,” the release read.
Phil Garofalo, communications director for the OBC, said more specifically, it is believed this particular hibernaculum will be home to a bat population that may be minimally affected by White Nose Syndrome. This is a move, Garofalo said, to keep “interaction (with the bats) to an absolute minimum.”
Garofalo said WNS came to the United States in 2006 — he said it is believed to come on equipment bought with European hikers. In the time since, it has reached half of the states in the U.S. Garofalo said White Nose is a fungus that grows on the noses of bats and causes them to wake during hibernation — this leads them to starve. Garofalo said one million native bats die a year from the condition.
“It’s a pretty awful situation,” he said.“There is no remedy, there is no cure that we have been able to discern.” Garofalo explained that scientists are testing probiotics to fight the condition, but nothing is certain yet.
This should give farmers pause, Garofalo said, pointing to the fact that bats save corn farmers $1 billion a year in pest management.
Garofalo said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as well as Ball State have conducted research, pointing to the value of the Magazine Mine and its bat population.
“They believe the Indiana bat hibernaculum is there in that mine and the Indiana bat is already an endangered species of bat,” he said.
Details of the mine’s transfer are still yet to be released, but a celebration of is planned for 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in Tamms.