National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR 2017/1377 / NPS 131/136125, January 2017, xi, 27 pages

Published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, Fort Collins, Colorado

Also available at:

Please cite this publication as:

Rodhouse, T. J., K. Slocum, T. Stefanic, S. Thomas, M. Lonneker and G. Dicus. 2017. Protocol for surveying bat use of lava tube caves during winter in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve: Version 1.0. Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR—2017/1377. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.


Executive Summary

The mission of the National Park Service (NPS) is “to conserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment of this and future generations” (NPS 1999). To uphold this goal, the Director of the NPS approved the Natural Resource Challenge to encourage national parks to focus on the preservation of the nation’s natural heritage through science, natural resource inventories, and expanded resource monitoring (NPS 1999). Through the Challenge, 270 parks in the national park system were organized into 32 inventory and monitoring (I&M) networks.

The Upper Columbia Basin Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (UCBN) and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (CRMO) are collaborating to inventory and monitor winter bat use of selected lava caves in CRMO following common methods described in this document that have also been implemented in Lava Beds National Monument (LABE). Collaboration among these two parks and the UCBN will help the National Park Service as an agency move toward more efficient and effective conservation of bat resources. Winter surveys of bat use in CRMO lava tubes and other volcanic cave features will be implemented by CRMO staff. The UCBN will also assist CRMO with data management, analysis, and reporting at annual and 5-year intervals. Bats at CRMO are at risk of contracting the fungal disease white-nose syndrome, and also face elevated risk of fatal collisions with large commercial wind turbines which are increasingly common in southern Idaho. An additional concern to bats in the region over time is the threat of increasing aridification associated with accelerated climate change, which is predicted to stress female bats during reproduction and possibly cause some hibernacula to become unsuitable for prolonged torpor. CRMO actively manages visitor use in all caves and the methods outlined in this protocol will provide much needed baseline information about bats that will be used to guide cave management.

This protocol details the why, where, how, and when of the CRMO bat cave use survey program for its lava tube caves. As recommended by Oakley et al. (2003), it consists of a protocol narrative and a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which detail the steps required to collect, manage, and disseminate the data representing the status and trend of bat use in select caves that are safely accessed in winter, and that are at risk of undesirable human impacts on bats. The SOPs are published in a separate document (Rodhouse et al. 2017), but references to individual SOPs will not be cited in the protocol narrative. An important and highly dynamic aspect of this protocol is the decontamination procedures required to prevent accidental introduction of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans that causes white-nose syndrome. Decontamination procedures are updated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as new information becomes available about effectiveness of cleaning agents. As part of the preparation for field work, the CRMO Project Lead and crew lead will review the most recent decontamination guidelines and train assisting field staff in its implementation. At this time, this protocol does not support the collection of bats under any circumstances. The intent of the protocol is to ensure that the park has the ability to safely and responsibly collect qualitative and quantitative information about the use of CRMO caves by bats during winter.