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For More Information:

Craig Walker
(412) 297-9347

Contact OSMRE


Bat Conservation and Mining

Click to access the interactive map. This link will direct you to a non-government website that may have different policies from those of OSMRE.

Click on the map graphic to access the interactive map showing a range of three bat species across US coal fields.

Bats provide critical ecosystem services to humans including eating insect pests, pollination, and seed dispersal. Bats are important to the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and are considered to be good indicators of ecosystem health because of their longevity and their sensitivity to changes in their environment that may also affect many other organisms.

Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome, caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has resulted in a significant decline in bat species across the United States, including in states with current mining activities.

Three bat species protected under the Endangered Species Act may be potentially encountered at mine sites:

  1. Indiana Bat
  2. Northern Long Eared Bat
  3. Gray Bat

To ensure the protection of endangered and threatened bat species, OSMRE works closely with our state regulatory agency partners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure mining activities do not negatively impact federally listed bats that are present at a mine site. Through this work, and partnerships with other Federal and State agencies, OSMRE helps develop guidelines and best practices for protecting threatened and endangered bats on mine lands.

Explore the interactive map of the U.S. coal fields and species ranges for the Indiana, Northern Long Eared, and Gray bats.

OSMRE Helps Bats

In addition to working with state regulatory agencies, OSMRE protects bats in a number of ways:

  1. Ensure mining activities do not negatively impact endangered and threatened bat species

    OSMRE works with state regulatory authorities and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop survey methods for bat species and to develop protection and enhancement plans to ensure mining activities meet Endangered Species Act requirements.

  2. Develop best practices for protection of bats at mine sites

    Research conducted by OSMRE and partners helps identify bat populations and ensure activities do not further damage populations currently listed as endangered or threatened.

  3. Explore the best methods and most efficient ways to survey bats

    OSMRE conducts studies with various surveying techniques to identify the best sampling methods, and most efficient way, to identify the presence of bats at a proposed mine site.

  4. Support research into effective technologies for bat gates

    Underground mines can make for suitable bat habitat, but are dangerous to humans. OSMRE works with partners to evaluate the effectiveness of bat gates that keep humans out but allow bats unrestricted access.

  5. Work collaboratively with Federal agencies, State governments, non-governmental organizations, and industry

    OSMRE and partners meet regularly to share experiences and problems facing bat species. Through these conversations, information and new techniques are shared and developed.

Case Studies

  • Bat Activity at the Flight 93 National Memorial

    • OSMRE employee Brian Dailey setting up bat detectors at the Flight 93 National Memorial

      In the summer of 2018, OSMRE began a bat study at the Flight 93 National Memorial. The purpose of this study is to evaluate bat activity and the efficacy of a low cost bat acoustic monitoring device at two different habitat types:

      • Pond/wetland area without the influence of acid mine drainage, and
      • A pond/wetland area designed and used to treat acid mine drainage

      OSMRE staff set up acoustic monitoring devices at four locations within the Flight 93 National Memorial Grounds to detect bat activity in July and August. Data from this study may be used to inform further OSMRE research into bat activity around active, reclaimed, and abandoned mine lands.

      This project is ongoing so check back for updates. In the meantime, visit the links below to learn more about how OSMRE has partnered with the Flight 93 National Memorial.

  • Addressing White-Nose Syndrome in Alabama

    • Instalation of bat gate in Alabama

      In 2017, the Alabama Department of Labor, Abandoned Mine Land Program completed work to close a mine opening in the Birmingham, AL area. Due to the presence of bats in the area, the mine was closed using a specialized bat gate, which allows bats free access to the mine caves, while keeping humans out. A 2017 survey conducted of the mine identified one of the largest hibernacula colonies of tri-colored bats observed in the greater Birmingham area.

      Since Alabama AML closed the mine with a bat gate, the area is now a suitable location for testing experimental treatments for white-nose syndrome as access to the mine can now be controlled and only allowed for survey/research purposes.

      The overall goal of the research is to test 3 Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) treatment options in the mine. The mine is 1 of 3 sites for this environmental testing, along with one site in Arkansas and one site in Ontario (Canada). Research will be conducted by Bat Conservation International (BCI) through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant.

      Bats with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy of Billy Pope

      Researchers will begin by collecting 20 swabs of the mine walls potentially where Pd should exist. The research team will use the results of these preliminary data to set up treatment locations. Once treatment locations are identified, the BCI team will construct "exclosures" that will prevent bats from re-contaminating the treatment area during the study. Researchers will be taking samples and treating them with 1) UV light, 2) Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), and 3) Isopropyl alcohol (decon agent) of at least 40, 20cm treatment zones within about 50 feet of the mine tunnel walls within the exclosure site. Over the following months, the research team will continue to collect samples of the treatment zone.

      While the research is not being conducted by the Alabama AML program or OSMRE these types of experiments would not be possible had the opening not been secured with a bat gate through the AML program.

  • Closing Dangerous Mine Shafts in New Mexico

    • Bat gate in New Mexico

      In the late 1800s mining left over 150 dangerous shafts, adits, prospects, and stope openings on Mine Hill near the southern New Mexico ghost town of Chance City. Closures included concrete caps, poly plugs, backfilling with rock, blasting, installation of steel bat grates with locking access doors, and cable nets. Because of the historical significance of the timber head frames, steel closures were constructed to fit around the timber posts. Today, people who visit the site to explore the ghost town and mine sites can do so without fear of falling into an open abandoned mine void. In addition, important bat habitat has been preserved and the reduction in disturbance by curious visitors should lead to an increase in the bat population inhabiting the mine workings.

Bat Conservation and Mining Steering Committee

OSMRE currently chairs the multi-agency group Protecting Bats at Coal Mines. This group is composed of Federal, State, and private stakeholders and provides a means for discussion of current topics and issues involving bats.

For more information contact the chair: Craig Walker at

OSMRE Sponsored Bat Conservation and Mining Technical Interactive Forum Proceedings

To date, OSMRE has cosponsored six technical interactive forums related to bat conservation and mining.

Proceedings and Reports

  • Protecting Bats at Coal Mines Symposium June 10, 2015

    • On June 10, 2015 OSMRE and the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (ASMR) sponsored a symposium in Lexington, KY on protecting bats at coal mines.

      Bat Symposium Proceedings from the 32nd Annual Meeting of the ASMR

  • Protecting Threatened Bats at Coal Mines: A Technical Interactive Forum August 31-September 3, 2010

    • On August 31-September 3, 2010, OSMRE sponsored a Technical Interactive Forum on Protecting Threatened Bats at Coal Mines in Charleston, WV. The first objective of the forum was to evaluate the implementation of the recently developed Range-wide Indiana Bat Protection and Enhancement Guidelines jointly developed by USFWS, IMCC and OSMRE. The second objective was to investigate the implications of a White Nose Syndrome outbreak on populations of hibernating North American bats in an effort to protect them during coal mining.

      Protecting Threatened Bats At Coal Mines Proceedings

  • Indiana Bat and Coal Mining: Revised Recovery Plan Workshop June 20-21, 2007

    • No published proceedings available
  • Potential Effects of Surface Mining Blast Vibration on Bats - Hibernacula Report by the State of West Virginia December 31, 2006

  • Indiana Bat and Coal Mining November 16-18, 2004

    • On November 16-18, 2004, OSMRE cosponsored a forum on The Indiana Bat and Coal Mining in Louisville, KY. The objective was to provide information on increasing efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Federally endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) and the need for better interagency coordination with state mining regulatory authorities during the permitting, mining, and reclamation activities of surface coal mines that potentially impact Indiana Bat habitat.

      Indiana Bat and Coal Mining Proceedings

  • Bat Gate Design Forum March 4-6, 2002

    • On March 4-6, 2002, OSMRE cosponsored a forum on Bat Gate Design with the U.S. DOI Fish and Wildlife Service and BCI in Austin, TX. The objective was to develop a manual on how to best protect important caves and underground mines used by bats through the use of gates and other bat friendly closure devices.

      Bat Gate Design Proceedings

  • Bat Conservation and Mining November 14-16, 2000

    • On November 14-16, 2000, the OSMRE and BCI cosponsored a technical interactive forum on Bat Conservation and Mining in St. Louis, MO. The Objective was to initiate increased cooperation between concerned Federal and State agencies and conservation groups interested in protecting bats in conjunction with mining and reclamation.

      Bat Conservation and Mining Proceedings

  • Range-wide Indiana Bat Protection and Enhancement Plan Guidelines for Surface Coal Mining Operations

Latest Information

For the latest information on threatened and endangered bats, including summer survey guidance and development of protection and enhancement plans, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species webpage.

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 10/24/2018

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