Texas Parks and Wildlife wants citizen observers to help it study bat fatalities from winter storm

An image posted to Facebook by Texas Parks and Wildlife shows dead bats under a Texas bridge - . - Facebook / Wildlife Diversity Program - Texas Parks and Wildlife
Facebook / Wildlife Diversity Program - Texas Parks and Wildlife
An image posted to Facebook by Texas Parks and Wildlife shows dead bats under a Texas bridge.
After last week's historic winter storm, dead and dying bats are turning up under bridges and overpasses across the state, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. Hundreds have been found in San Antonio.

In response, TPWD announced an investigation of the bat fatalities on social media, asking Texans to share observations, including photos, and to estimate the number of fatalities on iNaturalist, a social network used to identify and track plants, wildlife and other organisms.

However, TPWD is urging citizens not to handle bats, dead or alive, while making their reports.

Hundreds of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats, which typically stop in the region for warmer weather on their winter flights south, have been discovered dead in San Antonio, according to a KSAT report. Many were found at Loop 410's San Pedro Avenue underpass, the site of one of the city's largest bat colonies, according to Southern Refuge Rehab President Michelle Una Camara.

At press time, TPWD's reporting project had collected 72 observations of Mexican free-tailed bat fatalities in locations in San Antonio and across South and Central Texas.

The goal of the project is to investigate the winter storm's impact on all Texas wildlife. Of the 2,321 observations to date, 226 species have been identified through citizen scientists' crowdsourcing. The region's hardest hit species appear to be the hardhead catfish, followed by other fish including the striped burrfish, sheepshead and spotted sea trout, respectively.

The Mexican free-tailed bat is the 5th most-reported species among those that faced deadly outcomes from February's freezing temperatures.

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