In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Jo Lock of Nose No Limit and Conservation Dogs Collective regarding her paper about using antecedent arrangement to help reduce bat fatalities on wind farms.
Science Highlight: The relationship between the number of trainingsessions per week and learning in dogs
Links Mentioned in the Episode:
White paper – https://www.nosenolimit.com/bat-paper
Nose No Limit Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/nose_no_limit/
Nose No Limit Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/nosenolimit
Where to find Jo Lock: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Conservation Dogs Collective
You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/k9conservationists.K9 Conservationists
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Kayla Fratt (KF) 0:09
Hello and welcome to the canine conservationists podcast where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs join us every week to discuss ecology, odor dynamics, dog behavior and everything in between. I’m your host, Kayla Fratt. And I run canine conservationists where I trained dogs to detect data for researchers, agencies and NGOs. Today I’m talking to Joe Locke, who is of knows no limit and conservation dogs collective, about helping us training and what we know about antecedent arrangement to reduce bat fatalities at wind farms. So we’ve done a couple episodes now about bats and wind farms. And after our episode with Dr. Merlin Tuttle, Joe reached out to me about a white paper that she had put together. And we’re going to talk about this more throughout the episode. But basically what happened was Joe had been working on wind farms with her dogs fighting back carcasses, and she started noticing these patterns, and really starting to think about more holistic, more preventative ways that we can try to reduce these bat fatalities. So as we talked about on these previous episodes, wind farms are killing millions of bats every year. Most of these bats are not endangered yet. So they’re not protected. But we also don’t have good ideas of their population estimates. So we really don’t know what proportion of these bats are being killed each year, and how much trouble they’re really in. Because, again, while they’re not listed as endangered, we actually don’t know how many there are. So it’s a really big deal. This paper was really interesting. She talks about using basically wildlife corridors to try to route bats around wind farms, and give them the resources that they need so that they don’t approach these wind turbines. It’s a fascinating conversation, we will link to that entire white paper on our website as well. So go ahead and check that that out over at Canine conservationist.org. Before we get to the interview interview with Joe, I’m going to tell you a little bit about her. Josephine lock became fascinated with animal behavior as a young child by collecting and observing the animals around her first at her home near Oxford in the UK, and later in Bufferin, where she and her family lived until she was 15. With a degree in management science from the University of Wales and three years of a doctoral research on a tool for strategic planning and decision making. Most of her career was spent in the criminal justice and higher education sectors, working with human behavior. Joe then moved to the US in 2011 with her husband and two year old son and hear her fascination with behavioral science can set detection and animal training really took off. Joe has attended a long list of continuing education courses, including graduating from Dr. Susan for Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with animals course li Joe has been working in the canine scent detection world for 10 years as a search and rescue handler and as a conservation detection dog handler. She has been providing conservation scent Detection Services with her canine partner Willow and started knows no limit limit in 2018 and 2021. They also became parts of the conservation dogs collective as a finder keeper team. Joe has worked on a number of projects with various species, including a season of wind farm back carcass detection work that led her to write the white paper we’re going to be talking about, I’m super excited to get to this interview. One last thing before we get there, we’re going to dive into our science highlight. And this one is titled The relationship between number of training sessions per week and learning in dogs, which you can find over at Science Direct, which again, we will link to. And really, really briefly what they found was that dogs who were trained to five times a week actually needed more training sessions to learn a skill than dogs train one time a week. So it might be all about giving your dog enough time for latent learning, and rest and setting up these training sessions appropriately. Rather than trying to train every single day interesting finding a little bit unexpected, check out all of their methodologies. And further questions again over at Science Direct. We will link to that in the show notes. Before without further ado, let’s get to it with Joe Locke. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Joe. I’ve been very excited to talk to you about this ever since you first emailed me. So why don’t we start off with telling telling our listeners a little bit about what inspired you to write this paper? Where did it come from?
Jo Lock 4:18
Yeah, well, thank you, Kayla, for the opportunity to kind of talk to you about this. I guess the short answer to your question is curiosity. After my dog Willow and I completed a season of backpackers surveys, I basically had a lot of questions I wanted to know the answers to having done these surveys yourself. You know that the majority of bat fatalities at wind farms occur in the fall. When the migratory tree reached roosting species are heading south from their summer feeding grounds towards winter habitat so hibernacula I believe there are around 47 species of bats in North America and at least 24 of those have been found as fatalities at wind farms. It’s difficult to calculate exactly how many bats die each year but estimates put the read just the number in the region of at least a million or more just here in America. So this is obviously a huge concern to equal ecologists. And it’s also a big problem for the wind energy companies who can be prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act. So many of them elect to follow the voluntary guidelines of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and obtain what are called incidental take permits, then required to monitor the number of actual casualties via surveys which are done either by humans or dogs. And dogs have been shown to be more than three times more efficient than human searches. So that’s why we were out there doing this work. I’ve often thought that the term incidental take is an unfortunate term because incidental literally means less important byproduct. And bats are definitely important. We worked at a wind farm in the Midwest for around 10 weeks in 2019. And we searched between six and eight turbines a day, we then had to remit was to find all the bird and bat carcasses and to record data on the fines. And then we collected them up the bird carcass, sorry, we collected up the bat carcasses, which were then stored in a freezer and sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service at the end of the project. Research into this issue is obviously regarded as extremely important about biologist to conservation groups. And there are many organizations all around the world looking into it. So a lot of data has already been collected. And I was really curious to know what that data showed. During the surveys alone with your dog day after day, you get a lot of time to think and I became interested in learning how big the problem was, and what caused the bats to fly into the turbines. I was particularly interested in what solutions were already being applied and tested. Also, as a training and behavioral science nerd, I started thinking about the problem from that perspective. And I began to notice patterns in the caucus members. And after a while, I became fairly good at being able to predict which turbines would have more fines and which days will be busier depending on the previous night’s weather. So seeing those patterns got me wondering what was motivating their behavior to interact with the turbines. And I began thinking about whether behavioral science could be used to try to alter the behavior of the bat so that they kept their distance from the turbines. After our contract was finished, I spent most of that winter looking at published research on the impact of wind farms on bats, and learning as much as I could about the causes. And bats are creatures most people think about, I hadn’t previously realized just how incredibly important they are to our ecosystems. Around the globe, there are more than 1000 different species of bats and the loss of any single one of those could potentially have a devastating impact on global global ecology. There also very important economically because they have a voracious appetite and a major predators of night flying insects. One study estimated that they say farmers billions of dollars a year in pest control. What’s particularly troubling about the deaths at wind farms is that the bats are already under extreme stress from north in North America from the fungal infection, white nose syndrome. And on top of that, they’ve lost the majority of their habitat to human activity. And their populations are slow to recover because they reproduce so slowly. So the bottom line is that many bat species are already in a lot of trouble. And unfortunately, the species that are most affected by turbines are not protected by any federal state legislation. So the more I read about the problem, the more concerning it became. And I started to write it all down. And the result was a white paper that documents everything I discovered, and also the idea that I had for a potential solution.
Kayla Fratt 8:40
Wow, I think that it’s such a good point. I mean, there’s so many good points in there. And you’ve already answered one of my questions as far as what your process was for researching this, which we can go into more in depth if you’d like. But I think one of the biggest things that people might not realize is intuitively we imagined that I mean, a I think people think bats are bigger than they are, I think a lot of people think that they’re like squirrel sized. And they’re much more like mouse sized. And a bee, you know, when people think of mice or squirrels, they breed really, really rapidly. They have multiple litters a year, they have, obviously multiples per litre. And that is not the case with that. So when we’re losing these bats to win the turbines, you know, I think they generally have one, maybe two pumps a year. And obviously, wind turbines are not the only pressure that these bats are facing. And we’ve we’ve talked a lot about that in the past on this show. So we don’t necessarily have to dig way deep into that. But is there anything more you wanted to say on my process of researching this before we go into exactly what you found and what we’re suggesting?
Jo Lock 9:43
Yeah, yeah, sure. I mean, you’re absolutely right, that’s on rodents, and they don’t they don’t breed as fast. So my process was basically to do a literature review. And I started by reading some of the more recent large reports. There was four main ones that I can remember there was one by the way. Audubon Society, and another one by the American Wind and Wildlife Institute, and one by the Ecological Society of America. And I think the final one was the US Fish and Wildlife Service. And from there, I looked at the research papers that they’d referenced in their reports and just kept following the most interesting threads wherever they lead me. I also used some internet search tools to find as many related papers and articles as I could. And by the time I was done, I’d accumulated over 100 100 references. And I made a lot of interesting discoveries and all that reading. You know, I discovered that bats are supremely competent fliers. Their wings are made up of lots of separate bones and joints, which are covered by a membrane of thin membrane and skin. So the wing bones also vary in mineral content so near to their body, they’re very stiff and at their tips, they’re very flexible. This makes the wings very compliant so they can form lots of different shapes, which means that they create more lift and less drag when they fly. Their wing structure also gives them more maneuverability, which is what helps them to catch prey and also to avoid impact with objects. And I also discovered that the old saying blind as a bat is not actually true, and that that’s considered reasonably well with their eyes. Close of course, they navigate using echolocation. But that’s pretty short range and limited to about 50 to 100 meters. And beyond that they mostly rely on their vision to perceive large, large features in the landscape like the turbines. I also discovered that biologists first began finding carcasses beneath the turbines in the late 1990s. And these discoveries occurred by accident while they were studying the impact of turbines on birds. Prior to that, bat collisions with other tall manmade structures were rarely reported. So the phenomena was initially in an unexpected one and a bit of a mystery. Fast forwarding to today, there’s now over 30 years of research that says a lot more data known about the problem, and the first major study was in 2004 at the Castleman wind project in Pennsylvania. That study discovered that that deaths can be significantly reduced if the spinning of the blades is prevented until wind speeds are higher than the speeds that most bats are active. And imposing this cutting speed is called curtailment. And it’s still the primary mitigation protocol used today to reduce bat deaths. Another really interesting study was done in Indiana in 2012. And in that study, they fitted three turbines with infrared cameras so that researchers could watch the interactions of individual bats with the turbines. They also used acoustic detectors so they could identify the species and radar to detect the overall number of animals flying through the area. They recorded over 1300 hours of video over the 663 nights. And what they saw in that footage was that 90% of the bats were actively approaching the turbines. This really got my attention. And I found that other studies also concluded that bats were deliberately changing course to approach the turbines. So the main theory that was put forward to explain this behavior is that the bats are mistaking the turbines for tall trees and are approaching in the hope of gaining resources like food and a place to reuse. Another possible explanation is that researchers think that the tallest trees in the landscape may serve as rendezvous points for sexually mature bats during the mating season. Which of course for most species is during the fall migration. That’s the time of year when most fatalities occur. So all my research got me thinking about the behavioral element to this, because that’s clearly aren’t just randomly flying into these things by accident. So I looked at it the way I would approach it as a trainer trying to resolve any behavior problem. In other words, I thought about the ways that we could replace the bats approach behavior, and instead motivated migrating bats to take different routes, which avoided close contact with the turbines. And what I came up with utilizes a conservation technique that’s already in use in several places around the world to protect other migratory species. And that’s the use of wildlife corridors.
Kayla Fratt 13:54
You yeah, that’s, I don’t know if before I got this job, the job working on wind farms. At some point, I learned that the bats do seem to be intentionally approaching the wind turbines. And I think that that just makes it all the more tragic, of course, that, you know, it’s not that they’re blindly making this mistake. It’s not just that, you know, they’re, they’re flying across an empty landscape, and they happen to be unlucky enough to get hit by a turbine. They’re actually exactly yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s, that’s all the all the more tragic, which obviously, it would be just a sad if, you know, they were just making a mistake. But yeah, so, you know, I think it’s so interesting to think about what so many people are. So ecologists, I think, get scared of terms around freight training or thinking about things as modifying the behavior of animals of wild animals, but that’s exactly what a wildlife court or is so what are some of the suggestions specifically as far as how to implement these wildlife corridors and how they may be helpful for for protecting our baby bats?
Jo Lock 15:12
Yeah, so. So the approach I’m proposing complements many of the existing mitigation. So let’s start by talking about the solutions that are already being tried. So probably the best way to reduce the impact of turbines on wildlife is to make sure that they’re sited carefully so that their impact is minimized. And this is achieved by conducting pre construction surveys before a wind farm is built to find out what wildlife is already using their proposed site, and making sure that they’re not positioned in places with high levels of animal traffic. So after a wind farm has been built, the site can then be monitored via surveys to ensure that the impact estimates were correct. And as I mentioned before, right now, the most effective way to reduce fatalities on operational wind farms is to curtail the blades at lower wind speeds when most bats are flying. There was a study published just in November that review the effectiveness of curtailment at wind farm throughout North America, and it found that the average reduction in fatalities was 63%. But the precise relationship between cutting speeds and fatality reduction is not completely understood. So there’s not a universally agreed recommendation on what the optimal cutting speed should be to protect the majority of bets. We also need to recognize that when the blades are not spinning, electricity is not being generated, so the energy companies losing money. There’s therefore constraints on the amount of curtailment that we can expect companies to apply because above those limits, the wind farms cease to be viable. One recent development, which could help with the cost implications is something called Smart curtailment. There’s already quite a lot known about that behavior and the types of conditions they prefer to fly in and smart curtailment utilizes this knowledge. By combining wind speed data with weather data such as temperature and pressure, smarter decisions can be made so that curtailment can be implemented when the risk of back collisions is high. Another interesting approach that’s been developed over the past few years is the use of acoustic deterrence. And these are devices that are fitted to the turbine blade of blades and emit ultrasonic noise all around the windswept zone. This interferes with the best navigation systems and makes it much harder for them to approach the blades. The devices are fairly new. So there’s not a lot a whole lot of data yet. So it’s hard to affect evaluate exactly how effective they are. But there are a few published studies and one older study from a wind farm in Illinois showed reductions of around 30%. And another newer one based in Texas had reductions between 54 and 78%. However, interestingly, both the study showed that the deterrence effectiveness varies significantly by species. For example, several of the studies looked at, I looked at seemed to indicate that Eastern Red bats were less perturbed by the acoustic deterrence. And unfortunately, they’re one of the species that are most affected by turbines. So deterrents are definitely promising, but more research is needed. And I think it’ll be a while yet before we truly know how effective they are. I’d be particularly interested to see some studies that look at whether there’s deterrence of changing the overall behavior of the bats. In other words, do they deter the battery coming back to the site on subsequent nights or, or even subsequent years? Or do they only work while they’re actually turned on? And if so, will they continue to work or will the bats eventually habituate to them. There are also some drawbacks of the acoustic deterrence and cost is the main one because ultrasound doesn’t travel very far. So you need multiple devices fitted to each blade to cover the whole danger zone. And to be effective, you’d need to apply them to all the turbines at the wind farm and have them switched on the whole time. So these systems are probably costly and both to install and to maintain. There are some other types of tariffs that have also been tried using lights and whistles which warn bats of the presence of the turbines, but at the moment, the main mitigation strategies seem to be curtailment and ultrasonic deterrence. And the solution that I proposed in the white paper comes at the problem from a completely different angle. So rather than looking at ways to suppress the undesirable behavior, I took a constructional approach, and considered how we could encourage the desired behavior of flying safely pasture turbines. Well, while some aspects of that behavior are still unknown, there’s already a substantial body of knowledge on what bats need to thrive and the types of natural habitat and resources that attract and sustain them during migration. There’s knowledge for instance, on what they prefer to eat, where they like to roost. And how this varies between species. We also know that they require open bodies of water to allow them to drink on the way
Jo Lock 19:54
and back detection methods are getting better. So to say the amount and quality of data being collected discussed distantly improving, cameras are getting cheaper and more able to withstand exposure to extreme conditions and listening devices to pick up and record back calls are getting more sophisticated. There’s also been some major advances in software tools. And these allow scientists to analyze backhaul so they can tell which species is calling, and even sometimes what activity they’re engaged in at the time. And it’s, it’s very challenging to track individual bats during migration. But there have been several attempts to gather this data. And so for example, hoary bats are usually solitary, and migrations, a rare time when they’ve been seen traveling together in larger groups. And other other research has shown that bats will approach when recordings of conspecifics are broadcast, and will even approach when tools from other bat species are played. In addition, there, there’s research which provides information about how weather patterns affect bats movements, and how factors such as wind speed and the brightness of the moon and barometric pressure can help us to predict when they will choose to fly longer distances. So really, we’ve got quite a lot of information already About What Motivates bats, and what could therefore be used to reinforce their choice of one particular route over another. And the solution that I proposed in the white paper is to use all of this information to identify breadcrumb trails of interconnected habitat, that are specifically designed to attract bats, therefore creating migration corridors for them at safe distances so that they’re not tempted to approach the turbines. And by establishing corridors of habitat that repeatedly and abundantly satisfy the the bats natural, natural exploratory urges for food and shelter. It gives them ample opportunity to conduct their feeding, roosting and mating behaviors elsewhere in the safer natural landscape away from the turbines. And this, of course, isn’t, isn’t a new concept. wildlife corridors have already proven to be successful in several places, and migratory animals have been shown to be the group that are most likely to benefit. There are already lots of examples of wildlife corridors, for example, we’ve got designated fly aways for migrating birds, we’ve also have initiatives that exist to create global swing ways for migrating fish and marine animals. So creating back corridors might not be as far fetched as it sounds.
Kayla Fratt 22:18
Yeah, well, thank you so much. And thank you for being so prepared that so much incredible information, I want to circle back to a couple different things. And kind of highlight, you know, this, this concept of deterrence. And I think, you know, you and I have talked about this in the past, before we started recording, and how, you know, with with dogs and with other behavior that we train, we know that it’s possible to have something that may interrupt or stop a behavior without changing it in the long term. And I think this is a really common problem a lot of people have with their dogs. You know, I know, I have personally done this, and I’ve seen it dozens of times where the dog is barking at something, and you say, hey, shush, the dog stops barking. But then the next time, the same thing happens, the dog barks again. So we have effectively interrupted the dog and gotten them to shut up. But we haven’t actually taught the dog not to bark at the door, you know, the cat, whatever it is. And I that That, to me seems like it’s behaviorally similar to what’s happening with these bats. I know kind of, again, another salient example is when I was growing up, we had a lab who shed a ton, and my dad didn’t want her on the couch. And he would stack up, you know, all sorts of cardboard boxes, and he would put the kitchen chairs upside down on top of the sofa, and bla bla bla, bla bla. And that would stop her from getting onto the sofa. Usually, sometimes she would actually crawl up and sit across the top like a cat when we were gone. But usually it did the trick. But as soon as it was gone, it hadn’t actually taught her not to get up on the furniture when we were gone. And I think the human impulse once you’ve started down the route of attempting a deterrence strategy, is to then just up the ante and think about like, Okay, I need to get a Scott that or something that is going to escalation. I need to escalate this. And, you know, we’ve got so many reasons, as you know, you and I both fall pretty heavily into that positive reinforcement force free camp where we’d much rather think about what to teach the animal to do and instruct them and that goes for our pet animals as well as our wild animals. But also I think the point you made about you need multiple deterrence per wind turbine and in order to keep the bats away, so even if they were even if they do work. If they only work when they’re turned on, they’re going to need maintenance, they’re going to need updates there you need multiple heard turbine. You know, having worked on these wind farms, I know the guys who are going up tower they’re already busy. They’ve already got plenty going on. Like who is Maintaining these who’s keeping track of them? Does that actually become something that fits well into the maintenance schedule? To actually prevent these bats? You know, again, assuming they even work, which I think the first question is, do they work in the long term? Do they modify behavior? And it doesn’t seem like we have good evidence that they do in the long term. And then again, like, it just doesn’t seem practical. Especially, you know, so many of these wind farms have 200 300 500 turbines. That just seems kind of crazy to me.
Jo Lock 25:33
Yeah, I mean, you made some really good points there. I, I think the studies show that they do work. But they work in the way that we’ve, that you described that they only work while they’re present. So, you know, they act kind of like a safety gate, which, you know, baby gate, which prevents your dog entering the kitchen, but doesn’t really teach your dog not to enter the kitchen while you’re cooking. Unless the gates there. And the problem with putting up barriers like that is that you know, the dog behind the gate can still smell the delicious food. And so they start exhibiting other behaviors, right? So they start whining or they start, they start jumping on the gate or this truck trying to bust the gate down or so you know, those sorts of more troubling that they escalate. So they’re, you know, they get we get more troubling behavior sometimes, because it doesn’t actually teach the dog what you prefer it to do instead, which is to try and station outside the kitchen. Yeah, yep. So yeah, I
Kayla Fratt 26:32
take my dogs the cue go long, which is like, Hey, I will absolutely share, you know, and the funny thing is, I’m vegetarian. So it’s not like I’m generally sharing anything that’s even on I’m sure you’re gonna have my sweet potato cubes. But you, you know, especially and it’s funny now living in a van. It’s not that they’re going all that far away. It’s just like, I have like five square feet of foot space, you cannot be there, I will step on you and everyone will be sad. Yeah, oh, gosh, I had another thought there as far as Okay, so Oh, I think and you know, you and I were jamming a little bit on training. And I know a lot of our listeners are aware of these things and are a lot of our listeners are already really competent trainers. We have a lot of listeners who are professional trainers. But I was thinking, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ursa a Cray, my former co host over at Canine conversations. And she’s got a seven year old fox, who’s lovely. And, you know, I watch her do this with him all the time, where instead of telling him like, Hey, can you stop clapping your hands, or, Hey, stop doing whatever it is, you know, seven year olds have got busy hands shall actually give you a task, clear instruction on what to do with his hands. Because we’ve all seen this with kids and dogs and even ourselves where as soon as you tell me like, hey, stop doing that. You know, I’ve got 5000 other behaviors I could engage in, and you probably don’t like 3000 of them. So it just it’s so much easier. So okay,
Jo Lock 28:01
that’s exactly what I do with my dogs. Sorry. Yeah, so with the kitchen. So I have, I’ve got an open plan, living room kitchen space. So I’ve I’ve created stations for them, which is outside of the area where they’re going to walk under my feet, which is strange, I’ve got three dogs, I don’t want them wandering around in the kitchen when I’m trying to try to prepare meals. So their job when I start getting things out of the fridge and start chopping things up is to go to their stations and and that becomes the cue. So when I when I do start preparing meals, they all suddenly appear on their, on their mat, and they just relaxed there quietly, because they’ve learned with them an intermittent schedule, which I’ve gradually extended and extended, they’ve learned that if they just sit there patiently or lie down there patiently long enough, eventually, you know, piece of carrot, or, you know, if they’re lucky a piece of chicken will come flying through the air and land land in front of their feet. So
Kayla Fratt 28:55
So yeah, yeah, exactly. So let’s bring us back to our bats a little bit. And, you know, I know in our past episodes on this show with Ken Ramirez, we’ve talked a little bit about using, you know him using similar procedures to modify elephant migration behavior. So do we have any kind of specifics as far as what this may look like for the bats? Or do we still not necessarily know what the most appealing wildlife corridor for bats may look like? And as you’ve mentioned, there’s a good chance that would vary from species to species. Right?
Jo Lock 29:28
Right. So going back to a point you made earlier, which is very important, I think a lot of back biologists are concerned when you start using words like training on wild animals. I think the most vital aspect of this approach is to emphasize that there’s actually no direct contact and no direct interaction between the bats and the humans. While we may be deliberately unconsciously looking for ways to influence the routes that they take during migration, from the bats perspective, they’re still just conducting their normal natural foraging behaviors. So the other main point to note is that while it may sound like a really huge undertaking, I’m not proposing creating large new areas of protected habitat, or even suggesting that we build these corridors from scratch. But I’m proposing as a first step is to consciously examine what is already there and to maximize the functionality of that habitat. And then to slowly join up these fragments step by step phase by phase. The corridors would primarily begin by designating existing protected habitats such as state parks and preserves, but also bring onboard privately owned land wherever possible. Even the human dominated built landscapes in between the fragments could be ecologically enrich, so they support enough biodiversity to provide resources for bats. Connectivity could also be enhanced by incorporating existing arteries such as rivers, mountain ranges, greenways, trails and even abandoned railroads. We could begin the process with experts evaluating and mapping out the existing habitat, together with the locations of all unknown and planned wind farms, and then combine this data with weather patterns, and any data that’s already known about that migration routes. From this process, potential corridors and networks will emerge that already contain a high percentage of existing pet friendly resources. And these routes can then be assessed and selected based on the degree to which the landscape facilitates the movement of bets. Together with how much work and cost it would take to fill in any gaps. The end goal would be to ecologically enrich and embellish these routes sufficiently to create the required level of functional connectivity. And I don’t view all of this work as falling into one project or even to a single organization. Instead, I see it as a joined up collaborative effort with overarching goals and leadership. But on the grounds the the actual effort might involve local community groups and churches and schools and individual citizen scientists to care about bats and our ecosystems. So the first step would be to conduct a pilot study and test this approach to see if it works.
Unknown Speaker 32:02
Hey, Quinn and Luca here, Luca is an Akita mix they adopted from a shelter almost two years ago, from a very young age, Luca has struggled with some general fear and anxiety, especially out in the world, I randomly took a nosework class and noticed a massive difference in her behavior. She was lot more interested in exploring her environment and loved going on adventures. I love being a Patreon because selfishly, I get so much great information about nature and conservation that I would not have gotten otherwise, like books to read and articles to look at. I also get access to killers, great knowledge, I am new to Patreon. But I’m excited to have a group of people to help Luca and I move forward with combining our love of nature and her natural sensibility. I love that I’m able to support someone exploring two of my favorite things, conservation and dog behavior. And maybe one day with the support and knowledge from canine conservation. NIS I can get there myself.
Kayla Fratt 32:56
Yeah, okay. And that I love your point about, you know, how this doesn’t have to be something that we have to execute perfectly and coordinated ly across the entirety of North America in order to Yeah, I mean, is of course not like that. No way. But I also, you know, I think one of the other things that just excites me so much about this approach is, you know, if we if we went to the deterrent route, or if we go the deterrent route, the only ones that are benefiting, are hopefully the bats, which is you know, that’s that’s the main goal. That’s great. And then whoever is getting money for those deterrence, Whoever sells them. That’s really pretty much who benefits
Jo Lock 33:44
it’s increasing the cost of wind energy production,
Kayla Fratt 33:47
as well. Right. Right, which is a big, big detractor. And, again, like, there are potentially some big drawbacks, as far as you know, my poor friends who work on the wind farms having to do that much more dangerous, costly, hot, up tower, you know, maintenance of these things, or potentially, then the wind farms if they maybe they don’t have to be maintained, or they can’t be maintained. By you know, whether it’s Vestas or whoever staffs the the wind farm, then they have to pay someone else, an outside person to come in and do the maintenance. And that, again, is even more expensive. So there’s that and then versus your approach or this wildlife corridor approach, you know, who really is complaining about having more greenways especially places that may have water may be able to be multi use all like that, to me just sounds fabulous. And, you know, obviously, we’re, we’re a little biased on this show. But you know, and I think one of the cool things that I was thinking about as well is I think it’s a little bit of an easier lift to talk about see wildlife corridors first species like bats, which a, it probably can be a smaller, slightly more fragmented corridor versus a wildlife corridor for Bobcats or Pumas or Grizzlies. And while there’s still some public education that may need to take place in order to get people to feel comfortable with the ideas of bats coming through their their neighborhood, or through their their city park or something, or their ex or park more likely, that’s still an easier sell than a grizzly coming through. Or being near an area that’s a wildlife. Yeah, exactly. I’m in Colorado nowadays, and there’s been a lot of wolves are a very hot, hot button topic right now. Here and, you know, growing up in Wisconsin, same deal. So I think that’s also a really exciting component of this is again, while people are a little scared of bats, most people won’t see them. Most people are kind of aware, maybe, maybe not, but I feel like more people are aware of the idea that coexisting with bats. You don’t have to see them, they don’t, they’re not going to come into your house that are going to raise your trash. They’re not going to attack your kids, they’re not going to attack your dog. versus you know, that is a little bit more of a legitimate fear when we’re talking about apex predators and some of these other species that we really are working with wildlife corridors with,
Jo Lock 36:29
they’ve actually been very beneficial to us because of all the insects. The
Kayla Fratt 36:34
exactly, I think most people probably hate mosquitoes more than they’re afraid of that. I know I’m firmly in that camp. And I know that there are some people who still have some, like misconceptions that like, oh, all bats have rabies or bats will like come after you or, you know, they’re going to like move into your house and suck your children’s blood. But I think maybe maybe I’m just living in a bubble that I think most people kind of get that bats are more beneficial than than harmful at this point. Maybe I’m maybe I’m wrong, but
Jo Lock 37:09
Well, I hope you’re right. Because yeah, you’ve touched on quite a few of them already. But gosh, there are so many benefits to this approach. And then conservation is very systemic. And this idea is a joined up systems approach. So it creates opportunities for cooperation between multiple stakeholders. And there are there are also both environmental and economic advantages. To begin with, it unifies and supports many broader conservation goals. So there are multiple ways to benefit from funding efficiencies, and habitat coverage corridors wouldn’t just benefit that they would benefit many other declining species such as mammals and birds and insects and pollinators. So there’s a real opportunity to pull funding and resources and work together. You know, the goal of bat corridors is aligns with so many other conservation initiatives. For example, EO Wilson’s half Earth project, and Douglas telomeres homegrown National Park, and the 30 by 30 initiative. And it also complements existing and planned legislation like the wildlife corridors Act and the recovering America’s Wildlife Act. So as well as benefiting wildlife, it also has the potential to benefit local human populations because once they were established, the corridors could provide resources and opportunities for recreational amenities. They could be used for hiking and biking trails or watersports, like fishing and kayaking. So that would increase funding and land use efficiencies even further. From a conservation and human interests don’t have to be marked diametrically opposed. The biggest benefit of including the community in this project is that by bringing people closer to nature and providing opportunities for them to partner with and benefit from conservation projects, it would increase people’s understanding and empathy and ultimately stewardship of the land and wildlife. So, the economic benefits also include reduced costs of pest control for farmers, and potentially a reduction in the losses of curtailment to the wind energy companies. The corridors could also open up new opportunities for bad research, because tracking migrating bets is extremely challenging. So knowing in advance what routes they’re likely to take would allow for more passive data collection techniques, which could help deepen our understanding of their behavior and support some existing continent wide monitoring initiatives like the North American back Monitoring Project. And for me, I think the biggest benefit of this whole approach is that it’s scalable, and it can start having a positive impact on wildlife from the very start, no matter how small that start is, because it can be built upon step by step and phase by phase, gradually scaling up according to how well it’s working and what we learn as we go along.
Kayla Fratt 39:57
Yeah, that’s that’s a really great overview. And I know you’ve tried to send this out to some other corrupt neurologists and bat researchers around around the country. Have you gotten any feedback from anyone, anyone who has said anything helpful or encouraging or discouraging regarding regarding these proposals or this proposal?
Jo Lock 40:19
Yeah, so I’ve shared the paper with a few back biologists and academics. And I’ve also contacted some of the authors of the largest studies that I read, and a few local and national conservation groups. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit shortly after I finished it. So it was hard to contact some of the people. And obviously, everyone’s had other challenges or concerns to deal with lately. So I haven’t really had the amount of feedback that I’d hoped for. Most of the people that did look at it thought the idea had merit and suggested people, other people that I could contact and send it to. And I also received some valid comments and questions from some back biologists such as you know, how do we know if the bat species affected will actually use migration corridors and stick to those routes? And the short answer is that we don’t. But given that every other species on the planet uses its behavior to access the things it wants and needs, it’s kind of hard to imagine that that would be any different. So hopefully, it would work. And we just won’t know unless we try.
Kayla Fratt 41:18
Yeah, there that makes a lot of sense. And very good point that I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that bats are immune to the laws of learning. Yeah, yeah. You know, if you put the resources in a pattern that is helpful and beneficial to them, they’re likely to their behavior is likely to follow as a way to seek that out. Yeah, I gosh, I hope that, you know, maybe through this podcast, and through time, more people will be able to read this and give their thoughts and maybe you know, the state of Indiana or the state of Iowa or someone wants to go ahead and give this a try for a corridor through. And again, it’s the sort of thing that, obviously, it’ll take some coordination that will take some planning, it’ll cost some money to get up and going. But even if, for whatever reason, it’s not as effective as we hoped for the bats. You know, if we put a multi use path in there, some birds will probably use it, you know, someone will use this.
Jo Lock 42:24
It’s not wasted resources. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, so I think that the first step would be to form a kind of panel of experts to explore the feasibility of the idea and answer some fundamental questions. So for example, how far do bats fly on average between stopovers when they migrate? Because unless we know that it’s hard to determine how close together the habitat fragments need to be in order to have enough connectivity to form a corridor that the bats are likely to follow. And another part of the of a feasibility study that I would consider really necessary is some risk analysis to plan and incorporate safeguards to ensure that there’s not any unintended consequences. For example, for me, one of the big questions is how far can these bats actually see, because we obviously need to ensure that the corridors are far enough away from the turbines that they don’t accidentally draw back to closer in that might otherwise have passed, safely buy. But if the feasibility study, yeah, but if the feasibility study got the green light to proceed, then the next step would be a pilot project, which could involve just one or two wind farms. And then we’d need to ensure that there was sufficient before data to allow a comparison to be made of the effects. I personally don’t have the resources or the connections to make any of this happen. So the project needs a champion and need some funding. As you said, if these could be found, then as I explained earlier, you’d need to start by examining maps to identify potential routes. And once agreed, you would begin to load that breadcrumb trail of habitat fragments with all the things that bats need. And this could be achieved through lots of small local community projects that combined to contribute to the overall goals. Examples might include planting native flowers to track night flying insects, and planting the specific types of trees that that’s like to roost in, clearing some ponds and removing invasive plants and erecting temporary bat roosts until the right kind of trees that have had a chance to grow. And even maybe fitting devices to emit back calls, which you know, help to guide them and direct them in the right direction. And the project would need to continue to collect data on the fatalities to monitor the effective corridors and then you could make adjustments along the way according to what the data revealed. So yeah, I mean, if the pilot proved to be successful, it could be repeated elsewhere across the US and even potentially all over the world. And you know, as I said before, the the beauty of it is that it’s completely scalable. And expansion can happen in phases as resources allow
Kayla Fratt 45:01
Yeah, yeah, this sounds great. And yeah, I hope someone who hears this, I know, we have some listeners who are in kind of the policy realm and have a wide variety of interests, you know, maybe maybe this could start going somewhere. And, you know, whenever we need the dogs to be, you know, whenever we need those fatalities counted, I know a couple of dogs that are really great at finding bats. But it would be it would feel, you know, we’ve talked about this in the past on the show, when I was talking to Dr. Tuttle. You know, at this point, we know that the turbines are bad for bats. And I would be really excited as a dog handler to continue having the jobs and going out and counting bats because it’s good money, and it’s good steady work, which is hard to find in this field. But, you know, we all all of us in the conservation world have gotten into this because we want to see improvements, and we want to be protecting these species. And I would be much more excited knowing that we are hopefully quantifying the improvement of some of these deterrence rather than just continuing to study the problem. You know, from a somewhat cynical lens
Jo Lock 46:13
salutely Wouldn’t it be nice to go out year after year and find less and less and less bats each time you go out?
Kayla Fratt 46:20
Exactly. And then you know, doing what, you know, Morgan was talking about this in the webinar that conservation dogs collective gave last week now, which, you know, will be like, three months ago, by the time listeners are hearing this, but you know, talking about, okay, we need to have something else that the dogs are finding and you know, making sure that their enthusiasm stays up which unfortunately for the bats was not a problem at the site that niffler and I were at this last summer, you know, I he never really got bored or frustrated in the field because we had plenty of fatalities to find and I would love for that to be a problem at that site going forward.
Jo Lock 46:57
Absolutely agree. I mean, I you know, you said I think in one of your podcasts you talked about you know how when your dog finds a bat you kind of make all these like you know, squeaky and excited noises because you want to reward the dog but at the same time you feel kind of guilty because you’re celebrating the demise of a of a beautiful creature that you know lost its life you know unnecessarily
Kayla Fratt 47:21
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think you know, I am I think most of us are really big believers in renewable energy and we need something you know, obviously we also can do our part to reduce you know, our electric needs in our lifestyle but the reality is, we need something to produce our energy and I would love to I would love to see our wind farms and solar farms being as eco friendly as possible and again this is such a such a cool when when
Jo Lock 47:48
it’d be lovely to be able to remove the stigma of this from from wind energy because we absolutely need it to tackle climate change. And if we don’t tackle that then then bats and every other species on the planets in a lot of trouble.
Kayla Fratt 48:02
Exactly, yeah, yeah, as as bad as wind farms are for bats. Climate change can’t be better. I you know, it’s just it’s easier to quantify the wind farms. So is there anything else that you wanted to mention? Or bring up for our listeners before we go?
Jo Lock 48:21
I think we’ve covered it pretty thoroughly. And yeah, I’m just very grateful to you for the opportunity to come and talk to you about it because it’s kind of been a passion project of mine for a while and it’s kind of been sort of sitting there and I’ve not really known how to you know how to get it out there so as you say, I hope I hope someone out there listening to this thinks that they could maybe give this a try and I don’t know maybe excuse the pun, but maybe see if the idea can fly you never
Kayla Fratt 48:49
have to excuse pawns on the show. We’re all about it. Well, yeah, thank you so much Joe, we will make sure to link to the full the full white paper in the show notes if anyone wants to read it. Share it send it to your favorite your friendly neighborhood biologists your favorite friendly public policy maker and hopefully we can get this thing to take off. Joe Do you want to remind everyone where they can find you online? If they want to learn more about you follow? Follow you online see pictures of Willow anything like that?
Jo Lock 49:19
Sure. Well my own entity is called knows no limit. And OH S E and O li MIT and you can find it knows no limit.com And you can find me on Facebook and Instagram as well. And I’m also part of the conservation dogs collective so you can find me there at conservation dogs collective.org
Kayla Fratt 49:42
Great. Thank you so much. And now a truly thank you for thank you for emailing me when you heard the episode with Dr. Tuttle. It it always makes me happy just to hear from listeners period and just know that you know people are people are listening and be you know when people have responses Um, it really, you know, sometimes we turn them into a full episode. So, for all of our listeners at home, as you know, I’m Kayla Fratt. You can find us at Canine conservationists.org. Consider joining our Patreon. If you’re interested in learning more about the conservation dog field, we do video analysis calls, learning club calls, we geek out about all sorts of things. You also get to submit questions for our guests to answer for each episode. And if you’ve got a response to any episode, reach out, we might end up doing a whole episode on thanks to whatever it is you say to me. Again, you can find all that over at Canine health issues. Until next
Kayla Fratt 50:37
time. Are you on Patreon yet? If you love this podcast and want to support it in the long term, Patreon is the way to go. I spend hours per episode researching guests writing out questions, recording interviews, posting on Patreon to engage with our patrons about all of those, cleaning up the audio and putting together all of the promotional materials. Even with the help volunteers. This is an enormous task that takes up a ton of my time. And right now I’m not paid for it. For just $3 a month you can support this show while also getting access to our exclusive detection dog training video help calls which happened once a month, our learning club calls which are currently quarterly but I’m hoping to move to monthly and a lot more. You can join the fun over at patreon.com/canine conservationist or using the link in our show notes. You also may want to share this with anyone else you know who is interested in getting involved in the field of conservation detection dogs, because this is hands down the lowest cost way to get as much mentoring and assistance and joining the community of other professional and aspiring conservation detection dog handlers. And you’re gonna really enjoy it. See you there.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai