Keywords:Corynorhinus townsendii, Myotis ciliolabrum, Niter Ice Cave, Townsend’s big-eared bats, Western Small-footed Myotis
An Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Wildlife Biologist with assistance from a volunteer surveyed Niter Ice Cave for hibernating bats on 4 March 2016. Niter Ice Cave is a simple lava tube formation. We counted a total of 66 bats, a 40% increase from the previous count in 2014 (47 bats). We counted 64 Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) and 1 hibernating plus 1 flying western small-footed myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum). Bats in this cave are mostly accessible for visual inspection for the presence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) fungus. No bats were observed to exhibit signs of WNS. On the way out of the cave, we measured air temperature and humidity where bats were present (Table 1). We took precautions to prevent possible contamination and spread of white nose syndrome by following U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service WNS protocols. (Data form is U16ABE07IDUS.) Disturbance at this cave continues to be an issue. During the survey, four teenagers came into the cave, but exited at my request. Bat use at this site has remained relatively stable despite a history of disturbance (Figure 2). Bat use potentially could increase if this site were protected with a bat-friendly gate at a maximum, or, at a minimum, if the highway sign indicating location of the cave were removed.