Extreme Cold Weather Kills Bats Across Texas
Large numbers of dead or dying bats are being discovered under bridges and overpasses in Texas after last week's winter storm. One Austin resident sent KUT a video of what she saw downtown under a bridge at Henderson and Ninth Street.
“It was really upsetting,” Amy Miley said. “A number of them were obviously dead, and then a number of them were not dead yet, so they were suffering.”
Watch Miley's video below. Warning: Its content may be disturbing to some.
Texas Public Radio reports hundreds of dead bats were also found beneath I-35 in San Antonio.
Biologists say climate change has caused bats to adjust their migratory patterns so that some spend too much time in the winter in places like Texas instead of flying south.
“An extreme storm event like this is really unprecedented, and the bats couldn’t handle the physiological damage,” said Dr. Winifred Frick, chief scientist at Bat Conservation International. “They most likely froze to death.”
“The scale of this die-off … I think this is really unprecedented in Texas,” Frick said.
Meanwhile, some groups are scrambling to rehabilitate bats that survived.
"We’re doing our best, as are rehabbers all over Texas," Austin Bat Refuge posted on Facebook. "If you’re local, we could use more 1 ml insulin syringes (29-31 ga) and 1 ml syringes no needles."
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department posted images on Facebook of a mass bat die-off. They showed garbage bags filled with dead bats.
TPWD is trying to track the extent of the die-off by asking people to check under bridges and overpasses for dead bats and report data and photos to the iNaturalist project.
The department warns that no one without proper training should touch bats, regardless of whether the bats are alive or dead.
If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.