New Bat Species for South Carolina Discovered in the Upstate

Scientists have known for many years that South Carolina has been home to 14 bat species, but another bat species has now been recorded: the gray bat (Myotis grisescens).

This fall, scientific staff with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) discovered the first gray bat in South Carolina roosting in a crevice on the underside of a bridge in Greenville County.

“The recorded range of the gray bat has always skirted the edges of South Carolina, with counties bordering the state from Georgia and North Carolina in the Blue Ridge ecoregion,” said Jennifer Kindel, SCDNR state bat biologist. “Without a record of this species in the state it was difficult for biologists to obtain funding for systematic surveys, but now we hope to learn more.”

Kindel had been in touch with bat biologists in North Carolina who had been finding gray bats only miles from the North Carolina/South Carolina border the past few years. Though Jennifer and her wildlife technicians had attempted to net a 100-foot bridge where gray bat calls had been recorded, they were not having any luck. She decided to expand the search to shorter bridges with easier survey access, and in mid-August, she and Helle Cavalieri, her lead bat technician, found the first gray bat for South Carolina in Greenville County.

A week later, Kindel and Mary Bunch, retired heritage preserve manager and biologist specializing in bats and other small mammals, found the first record of a gray bat in Oconee County. A total of four gray bats were ultimately recorded.

Gray bats are listed as a federal endangered species. Kindel said the gray bat has recovered from predicted extinction since being placed on the endangered species list, but populations are still at risk due to gathering in very large numbers in only a few caves.

To learn more about bats in South Carolina, visit SCDNR – Bats.