The Department of Conservation's bat (pekapeka) recovery plan has a goal of conserving all bat sub-species throughout their present range and establishing new populations where possible.
Surveys are being undertaken in many areas to determine the present distribution of the two bat species. Bats are located by searching with an electronic 'bat box', a small black box that can pick up high frequency echo-location calls.
There are encouraging signs that bats are more numerous and widespread than previously thought, including recent confirmation that the short-tailed bat survives in Kahurangi National Park and the Nelson region of the South Island (it was thought to be extinct in the South Island).
Research is revealing the complex social systems of short-tailed and long-tailed bats, with both bats using a series of communal and solitary day-time roosts.
Long-tailed bats along the Kepler Track
Read about the discovery of long-tailed bats along the Kepler Track Great Walk and plans for their protection. Kepler bat research report (PDF, 5920K)
DOC's work in South Canterbury
Most remaining bat populations are associated with extensive native forest. However, South Canterbury is special because this is one of the few places where bats have persisted in a rural landscape.
DOC researchers have been collecting information about bats in the Hanging Rock area. The population is small and vulnerable, numbering only about 100 bats and still declining. By learning why bats have survived here, the researchers hope to make recommendations that will help restore bat populations in South Canterbury and other parts of New Zealand.
Bats are dependent on old-aged trees that provide cavities with the correct conditions for breeding. They prefer to roost in the native trees that are now scarce. However, they will roost in introduced trees that are allowed to get old and large enough for natural cavities to form. The bats in South Canterbury have had to adapt to using species such as willows, poplars, macrocarpa, and pines.
Four special roosts used by female bats to nurse young were found in the Geraldine area. Three of these trees were intended for firewood.
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