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Where EAST meets the Northwest

ENDANGERED BAT. In this May 11, 2007 file photo provided by Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary, a Hawaiian hoary bat is seen being fed in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i. Wildlife experts rescued and nursed back to health the endangered bat after it was found lying lifeless, dehydrated, and starving on a car. (AP Photo/Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary via West Hawaii Today, File)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #14 (July 17, 2017), page 7.

Hoary bats confirmed on Kahoolawe Island

WAILUKU, Hawai‘i (AP) — After years of speculation, wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of an endangered bat subspecies on Kahoolawe Island, seven miles southwest of Maui.

The Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission used eight detectors to confirm the presence of the Hawaiian hoary bat on the remote island. Natural resource specialist James Bruch told Maui News that the bat may be the only native land mammal visiting and possibly living on the island, which was formerly a Navy target.

The detectors picked up the first bat in June 2016. It detected a bat again in August and again in September and October, before dropping in December and January. There were no detections again until April, the report said.

Before this, Bruch said Hawaiian hoary bat sightings were reported, but could not be confirmed.

"Every once in a while either a worker or volunteer would say, ‘Oh, I think I saw a bat,’ but no one could verify it," Bruch said. "We’ve put out a detector one or two nights out of the year and nothing was ever picked up."

The bat is small in size and dark in color, making it difficult to spot. It has been seen on Maui, Hawai‘i, Molokai, and Oahu but is suspected to live only on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.

Data suggests the bats travel to Kahoolawe and then return to their homes by nightfall, Bruch said. He thinks it might be possible that a small population has taken residence and the bats may be using the island for breeding.

The commission is continuing to review the bat data and is hoping to acquire funding for more research.

"It’s amazing how little we know about the species," Bruch said. "They’re cryptic. They’re harder to detect, but the technology is much better and the prices are coming down to where it’s more reasonable to do studies like this."

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