Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Bats roam the night skies and sleep by day, and some bats do both right on the base. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has many suitable roosting areas, especially for the Indiana Bat.
The Indiana Bat has found an ideal habitat in the tall, mature trees at WPAFB. Although other kinds of bats reside there as well, the Indiana Bat specifically roosts in area trees that are being overcome by invasive species, namely bush honeysuckle.
“One of the responsibilities we have in natural resources is endangered species. In this case, the endangered species is the Indiana Bat,” said Jerry Shofner, chief of environmental asset section.
The invasive species, bush honeysuckle, was introduced into the United States in the 1800s, used to aid wildlife, help deter erosion and as beautification of various areas. Because this assertive plant thrives richly in both full sunlight and moderate shade, it tends to grow lavishly in the understory and throughout any given area, especially at Wright-Patterson.
“We have a pretty diverse population of bats on base in general that live in caves and mines, but Indiana bats are specifically tree roosting bats. However, one of the problems effecting endangered species is habitat,” said Darryn Warner, natural resource program manager.
Although the Indiana Bat is currently thriving in their habitat, many of their roosting trees are 75 to 100 years old, nearing the end of their life span. Due to bush honeysuckle being so dense, it doesn’t allow light or nutrients to penetrate the soil to feed other seedlings.
“The honeysuckle at the lower levels just take the area and doesn’t allow the natural habitat to regenerate itself,” said Shofner.
One of the goals of the Wright-Patterson environmental asset section is to encourage a very diverse forest, baring trees of multiple ages, size and class to be peppered throughout the forest. The healthy growth of tree lings will help ensure the future roosting habitat of the Indiana Bat here on base.
Warner said the first step is removing and controlling the honeysuckle to get some natural regeneration of the native trees in that area, all part of maintaining a natural habitat for a seldom seen, but vital part of the local environment.