The Mississippi Bat Working Group (MBWG) held their tenth annual mist net event August 6 – 8, 2013 at the Choctaw Indian Reservation in Choctaw, Mississippi. The event kicked off with a potluck supper at the Mississippi State Extension building where participants enjoyed a variety of delicious foods. After a safety briefing, the group divided into three teams for the first night of netting.
On Wednesday, participants toured the Choctaw museum and were treated to a cooking demonstration by Pearlie Thomas detailing preparation of hominy and fry bread. Following that, hostess and co-coordinator Mitzi Reed explained the basics of stickball, a traditional Choctaw sport, and rabbit sticks (a traditional hunting method). Participants had a chance to try out the stickball sticks and rabbit sticks and it was determined that: 1) We all needed a lot of practice before we could attempt stickball and 2) We would starve to death if we had to use rabbit sticks to hunt. Luckily the group was able to partake of the hominy and fry bread prepared during the demonstration so no one went hungry!
Wednesday evening, after supper, the group divided into two groups for a second night of netting.
In all, the group caught a total of 31 bats and a southern leopard frog (go Chester!). The distinction of most bats caught was held by the team led by Kathy Shelton, who accounted for 21 of the 31 bats captured. Species captured included Lasiurus seminolus (1), L. borealis (15), Nycticeius humeralis (12), and Myotis austroriparius (3). Fifteen juvenile bats and 16 adult bats were captured. Nearly half (14) of the bats were captured in a triple high net stretched across a dry gravel road surrounded by bottomland forest. The group followed the national protocol for handling bats to avoid spreading white-nose syndrome, wearing nitrile gloves, cleaning equipment between uses, and boiling nets between uses. No equipment was used that had previously been used in a white-nose positive state. Additionally, the wings of captured bats were examined for damage, using the “Wing-Damage Index” developed by Jonathan Reichard. No significant damage was observed.
The group would like to thank the following individuals: sponsor Chester Martin; Mitzi Reed and Kathy Shelton who helped with site selection; Chester Martin, Alison McCartney, and Kathy Shelton who served as group leaders. Additional thank you’s go out to Mitzi Reed and Pearlie Thomas for the demonstrations and to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians for providing access to their lands for this event. Thank you to everyone who attended – we wouldn’t have these events without you!