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History

Northeastern, Southeastern, and Western bat working groups had been formed earlier to bring bat biologists and conservationists together to discuss mutual problems, collaborate on projects, and otherwise to move bat biology and conservation forward. However, there was no Midwestern Bat Working Group, although a start in this direction had been made earlier by Joe Kath, Rob Mies, and others in 1998. This group, called the Northeastern Bat Working Group, included 22 northeastern and midwestern states. Three annual meetings were held from 1998- 2001. One included an Anabat II Workshop in Ohio. The third in 2001 was held in Kentucky and was co-sponsored by the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network. This meeting included a symposium on the conservation and management of Myotis sodalis. Ultimately this group proved too large and momentum sagged. The current, smaller Northeast Bat Working Group evolved from it, leaving the Midwestern to form its own group. Finally, some progress was made.

In 2008, Virgil Brack and Lori Pruitt encouraged John O. Whitaker, Jr., Director of the Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation (ISU Bat Center) to organize a Midwest Bat Working Group. He, with the able help of Angela Chamberlain, also from ISU Bat Center, set to work towards this end.

The first steps were (1) to determine states to be included and a chair for each state, (2) to determine and contact bat biologists and conservationists in each state, and (3) to establish a steering committee for the entire project. A draft list of charter member states was made. States that declined to be members were Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Listed below are the states, state chairs, and the number of people per state that ultimately became charter members:

CHARTER STATES NUMBER/STATE STATE CHAIRS
Arkansas 1 Tom Risch
Illinois 14 Joe Kath
Indiana 18 John Whitaker
Iowa 1 Amy Halsall
Kentucky 4 Brooke Slack (now HInes)
Michigan 5 Rob Mies
Minnesota 2 Gerda Nordquist
Missouri 2 Sybill Amelon
Ohio 9 Angela Boyer
Wisconsin 12 Dave Redell

The Steering Committee was established in early April 2009 and consisted of:

Michael Baker, Bat Conservation International
Virgil Brack, Environmental Solutions & Innovations, Inc.
Joe Kath, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Heritage
Rob Mies, Organization for Bat Conservation
Lori Pruitt, United States Fish & Wildlife Service
Dave Redell, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources
John Whitaker, Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation

TIMELINE OF EVENTS 2008-2009

September, 2008. Virgil Brack and Lori Pruitt contacted John Whitaker in his capacity as Director of the Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation requesting that he attempt to organize a Midwest Bat Working Group through the ISU Bat Center. Dave Redell contacted Lori Pruitt at about this same time for the same reason and he immediately became involved. The group worked up a list of states, a person to “chair” each state group, and a list of people from the state that might be interested.

October 30, 2008. A letter was sent to each of the chairs providing initial information on the formation of the group, and requesting that they comment on their interest and refine the list of people for their individual states.

October 2008 through March, 2009. Amy Fairbairn (now Halsall) initially agreed to serve as secretary for the group. During this period many positive comments were received from the chairs and others, as well as help forming the state lists.

February 10, 2009. We decided to hold the first meeting in April or May, 2009, and later established the actual dates as May 7-8 for the first meeting to be at the ISU Bat Center in Terre Haute, IN. Brianne Walters of the ISU Bat Center helped greatly with mailings and arrangements for the first meeting. This meeting would not have been the success it was without all the time and effort Brianne Walters put into organizing the event.

April 4, 2009. ISU President Bradley agreed to welcome the newly formed Midwest Bat Working Group to campus on May 7.

April 6, 2009. A list of questions was drafted by John Whitaker and sent to the Steering Committee members to address a number of miscellaneous issues concerning the meeting.

April 8, 2009. Joe Kath secured $1500 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Endangered Species Program for startup money. Rob Mies contributed $500 from The Organization of Bat Conservation at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

April 2009. An introduction to MWBWG, an invitation to join the group, and an invitation to come to the first meeting, along with a tentative agenda, were sent to each of the people on the state lists. The meeting was to include reports on current bat biology from each of the states, sessions on white-nose syndrome and wind farms, as well as various talks by individuals. Confirmation was received from the University on use of various university rooms, parking, etc.

May 7-8, 2009. The first meeting of the MWBWG was hosted by the Bat Center at Indiana State University. It was a huge success. There were 60 people in attendance, including two invited speakers, Alan Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Dr. Eric Britzke, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. Al Hicks, keynote speaker, presented on White-nose Syndrome (WNS). Two main sessions for invited papers covered WNS and wind power. Other presentations included bat reports for each state, several other bat projects, and general discussions about the future plans of the new MWBWG.

Late May, 2009. Additional details concerning the organization of MWBWG were discussed among the steering committee members. The tentative list of Charter Members was presented to the committee. Registration fees and membership dues were placed into separate accounts at ISU.

May 26, 2009. The consensus of the steering committee was that two “task forces” should be initiated, one on white-nose syndrome, and the other on wind power. Virgil Brack offered to organize the task force on wind power, and also to help establish the website and list-serv. The list-serv will be run by Tim Carter through Ball State University. Dave Redell, Michael Baker and Lori Pruitt were suggested for the WNS task force.

August 27, 2009. The two task forces, the website, and the list-serv were established.

November 2009. It was decided to have the second meeting of MWBWG again hosted by the ISU Bat Center on May 6-7, 2010. Organization and procedures of the group should be finalized there. Also, it was decided to meet jointly with the northeast and southeast bat working groups in Louisville, Kentucky in February 2011.

2010

March 22, 2010. Details of the second meeting of MWBWG were sent to the membership. Dues were $25 and registration was $45. Joe Kath (IDNR) and Rob Mies (OBC) again helped to fund the meeting.

May 6-7, 2010. The second annual meeting of MWBWG was held at Indiana State University and was attended by about 75 people. During the meeting, organizational procedures were discussed and the first board of directors was elected. Much of the meeting centered on the dual problems of wind power and white-nose syndrome and how the various states, agencies, organizations, and individuals can cooperate to meet these threats. 2010 Midwest Bat Working Group members.

The first elections of the MWBWG occurred at this meeting:

Officers
President – Rob Mies (Organization for Bat Conservation)
Vice-President – Dave Redell (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
Secretary – Amy Halsall (V3 Companies)
Treasurer – Brianne Walters (ISU Bat Center)

Elected Members at Large (later called “Board of Directors”)
3- year term

  • John Whitaker (ISU Bat Center)
  • Al Kurta (Eastern Michigan University)
  • Tim Carter (Ball State University)

2- year term

  • Joe Kath (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
  • Gerda Nordquist (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
  • Katrina Schultes (U.S. Forest Service)
  • Bree McMurray (Missouri Department of Transportation)

May 12, 2010. The MWBWG signed onto a WNS letter forwarded to Congress by Bat Conservation International to encourage continued funding in the next fiscal year.

May 19, 2010. The Midwest Bat Working Group Mission Statement was approved by the Board: As the primary predators of night-flying insects, bats are crucial to the ecology, economy, and health of our shared world ecosystem. The Midwest Bat Working Group (MWBWG) provides a structure for coordination, collaboration, and communication among concerned citizens and professional biologists in state, federal, academic, and private organizations. The MWBWG is dedicated to the conservation of bats and their habitats, particularly in the Midwestern United States, and works to address bat-related issues with a regional approach. Although most participants are from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, membership is open to anyone who seeks to collaborate on research and management of bats or to promote conservation by enhancing public understanding of bats.

November 18, 2010. Amy Halsall resigned as Secretary, due to other commitments.

November 30, 2010. Katrina Schultes was accepted by the Board to fill the rest of the Secretary’s term. It was decided by the Board to wait until the next regularly scheduled election to fill the empty Board seat.

December 23, 2010. Linda Castor of ISU created (with Board input) an official logo for MWBWG.

2011 February 23–25, 2011. The third annual meeting of MWBWG was held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the Northeast Bat Working Group and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network in Louisville, Kentucky. Meeting hosts were Tim Carter (BSU) and Brooke Slack (KDFWR). Total membership in the MWBWG was 38, which included 33 professional and 5 student members. The meeting was generously sponsored by Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, ISU Bat Center, Organization for Bat Conservation, Copperhead Consulting, USFWS, Eco-Tech consultants, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., Titley Scientific, and Bat Conservation International.

The opening day featured a half-day WNS Symposium with invited speakers discussing the current status of the epizootic, potential regulatory impacts, perspectives of state and federal agencies, and the National WNS Plan. A Bat Techniques Workshop was held in the afternoon; topics covered included banding, pit-tagging, radio telemetry, acoustic monitoring, tissue sampling, WNS decontamination procedures, and Geomyces destructans detection. The second day highlighted a Bats and Wind Symposium with eight invited speakers addressing regional perspectives, fatality studies, and mitigation options. The final day featured the 21st Colloquium on the Conservation of Mammals in the Eastern United States. Thirty-five oral presentations were given across seven different sessions (methodology, human dimensions, WNS, surveys/inventories, habitat, ecology, and genetics/toxins).

March 2011. It was decided at the annual meeting to hold the next meeting (2013) at Ball State University in Muncie, IN with Tim Carter as host and the 2014 meeting would be hosted by Joe Kath in Illinois. Tim initiated some discussion about what our standard format should be. It was decided to hold a 1.5-2 day meeting on a Thursday/Friday in early April to ensure student participation and to avoid overlap with other meetings.

September 6, 2011. Bylaws as revised by Katrina Schultes and Tim Carter were approved by the Board.

2012

April 5-6, 2012. The fourth annual meeting of MWBWG was held at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN and was attended by 67 people. Dues were $25 professional/$15 student and registration was $50 professional/ $35 student. The meeting was sponsored by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Joe Kath), Organization for Bat Conservation, Wildlife Acoustics, Titley Scientfic, Environmental Solutions & Innovations, Inc., Cardno JFNew, and the ISU Bat Center.

The presentations on the first day centered on WNS, wind power, the new proposed Indiana bat survey protocol, and acoustic techniques. On day two, short state reports were provided, 2 invited speakers presented (Chris Corben on acoustic identification of bats and Rob Mies on inspiring audiences with bat programs), and the rest of the day was devoted to 8 oral research presentations and 11 poster presentations.

Membership was up to 50 people. Six of eleven Board positions were up for election, including one empty slot. Dave Redell (VP), Katrina Schultes (Secretary), Joe Kath, and Bree McMurray were welcomed back. Justin Boyles and Amy Russel were welcomed as new members, and Gerda Nordquist was thanked for her 2 years of service.  

The Bylaws were officially voted on and accepted by the Membership at the Business Meeting. The first official committees, chairs, and members were also presented to the Membership with a request for member participation (chair is listed first):

Annual Meeting Committee to assist annual host with organizing, creating a program, and schedule presentations.

  • Brianne Walters, Treasurer
  • Tim Carter, Board Member
  • Al Kurta, Board Member

Nomination and Election Committee to announce, collect, and organize nominations and run elections for Board of Directors.

  • Dave Redell, Vice President
  • Rob Mies, President

Awards Committee announce and accept nominations and organize judges.

  • Joe Kath, Board Member
  • John Whitaker, Board Member

Bylaws / History Committee to give an annual report about the bylaws and keep an accurate history of the working group.

  • Katrina Schultes, Secretary 

Website Committee to maintain and improve the website - requires a quarterly report on the state of the website including progress and plans.

  • Bree McMurray, Board Member
  • Paul White, Wisconsin member

Membership Committee to keep an accurate member list and promote to new membership.

  • Justin Boyles, Board Member
  • Amy Russell, Board Member
  • Brianne Walters, Treasurer

September 13, 2012. A Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of Dave Redell was proposed, discussed and unanimously approved by the Board. Al Kurta, Amy Russell, and Joe Kath worked on the criteria. Purpose: To honor those who have demonstrated an exemplary, long-term commitment to promoting and preserving bats in the Midwest through research, conservation, education, or other creative projects. The award will be presented at future annual meetings when nominations are recommended by an Awards Committee and approved by a majority Board vote.

September 18, 2012. Dave Redell, current Vice President of MWBWG passed away from brain cancer. Dave Redell’s wife, Jennifer, was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2012.

2013

February 5, 2013. Al Kurta was elected by the Board to fill the VP position, vice-Redell.

April 4, 2013. Al Kurta announced the results of the 2013 Board elections: Rob Mies, President, and Brianne Walters, Treasurer, remain in their respective positions. Tim Carter and Gerda Nordquist were re-elected and the Board welcomes Scott Johnson from Indiana DNR.

April 4-5, 2013. The fifth annual meeting of MWBWG was held at Ball State University in Muncie, IN and was attended by 98 people. There were 72 members (64 professional, 8 student). Dues were $25 professional/$15 student and registration was $50 professional/ $35 student. The meeting was sponsored by Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Organization for Bat Conservation, Wildlife Acoustics, Titley Scientfic, Bat Conservation Management, GAI Consultants, Cardno JFNew, and the ISU Bat Center.

The Midwest Bat Working Group’s President, Rob Mies, welcomed the group on the first day. Invited speakers included Andy King discussing national and regional updates on white-nose syndrome and updates to the USFWS’s proposed revisions to the 2007 Indiana bat summer survey protocols; David Riggs spoke about and demonstrated the Kaleidoscope acoustic identification software program; and Ryan Allen spoke about and demonstrated the Bat Call Identification software program. There were two demonstrations: Use of UV for WNS Field Tests and Hands On Demo of UV Methods by J. Gumbs (BATS Research Center) followed by an Acoustics session with four additional oral presentations. A poster session with 22 posters wrapped up the day with a concurrent evening social. On day two, there were 8 oral presentations on a variety of bat research topics, state reports, and the annual Business Meeting. Dr. John O. Whitaker, Jr. was presented with the Redell Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of commitment, service, and research in the fields of bat biology and conservation.

September - November 2013. The Website Committee completed a transition from the old to new website host and updated the site content.

November 26, 2013. The Bylaws were amended to incorporate a Student Representative on the Board of Directors.

2014

March 31 - April 2, 2014. An acoustic software workshop hosted by Bat Conservation and Management preceded the 2014 Midwest Bat Working Group meeting in Terre Haute, IN. Instructors included John Chenger (Bat Conservation and Management), Dave Riggs (Myotisoft), Joe Szewczak (Humboldt State University), and Janet Tyburec (Janet Tyburec Consulting). This 3-day workshop provided a great opportunity for participants to gain hands-on experience with a variety of full-spectrum acoustic equipment and software designed to analyze acoustic data. This diurnal and nocturnal workshop was attended by 13 individuals, representing federal and state governments, universities, and private industry. On the first day, participants learned about a variety of bat detectors, and discussed the basics, benefits, and trade-offs of acoustic surveys and monitoring, before heading out to the field for a nighttime hands-on acoustic recording session. Acoustic surveys are not just about recording high quality bat calls, but also about collecting the meta-data. Participants learned how important it is to establish and follow a standardized protocol for collecting acoustic data, as well as collecting the equally important survey information such as location, weather, habitat conditions, and equipment used. The second day included instruction and hands-on time with the latest version of the Sonobat acoustic analysis software from Joe Szewczak. Presentations and discussion followed about bat call characteristics and identification by species and the strengths and weaknesses of the major software packages available today (i.e., Sonobat, Kaleidoscope, EchoClass, and BCID) before heading to the field for another nighttime acoustic session. The final day of the workshop covered active and passive acoustic survey techniques and discussed the increasingly popular mobile acoustic transect method. Dave Riggs provided a walk-through of his Myotisoft program. During the workshop there was a wealth of information presented and excellent hands-on participation for both acoustic equipment and software. The instructors did a great job fitting coursework into 3 days that could have easily taken an entire week!

April 3 - 4, 2014. The 6th Annual Midwest Bat Working Group meeting, hosted by the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation, was held at the Sycamore Banquet Center at Indiana State University (ISU), Terre Haute, Indiana. This was our biggest meeting yet with 133 people in attendance from various government agencies, universities and consulting firms. Special thanks to ISU students and staff who helped organize and manage the event. Thanks also go to our sponsors and vendors, including AllStar Ecology LLC, Bat Conservation and Management, Cardno JFNew, Civil & Environmental Consultants, EcoTech, GAI Consultants, Organization for Bat Conservation, Titley Scientific, WEST, Wildlife Acoustics, and the Indiana State University Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation.

Day one of the meeting started out with a board meeting and breakfast followed by a welcome by president, Rob Mies. He announced the newly elected board members: VP – Scott Johnson, Secretary – Katrina Schultes, Directors – Kari Kirschbaum, Kevin Murray, Jennifer Norris, Marne Titchenell, and J. Paul White, and Student Board Member – Vanessa Rojas. They join current board members: President – Rob Mies, Treasurer – Brianne Walters, and Directors – Gerda Nordquist and Tim Carter. The day followed with talks and updates covering Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat protocols along with updates on other species, white-nose syndrome, impacts of wind developments, and a bats and forests symposium. The day rounded out with an evening social and poster session. Everyone enjoyed great food and posters (including 8 student posters).

Day two began with breakfast, oral presentations (including 5 student presentations), state reports, and a business meeting. Scott Bergeson (from ISU) took home all the glory by winning both the student poster and the student oral presentations. He received $100 cash and a certificate for each award.

2015

February 18, 2015. Rob Mies requested of the Board that we provide a MWBWG representative to North American Bat Conservation Alliance (NABCA) steering committee. The 10-person committee will be comprised of 1 government-appointed individual per country, 1 individual per US working group, 1 coordinator, 1 Mexican working group individual, and 1 Canadian working group individual. Representatives will provide feedback and insure that all regional priorities are considered. Vanessa Rojas was nominated and accepted the role.

February 18, 2015. Brianne Walters announced the results of the 2015 Board elections: Rob Mies, President, and Brianne Walters, Treasurer, remain in their respective positions. Tim Carter was re-elected and the Board welcomes Megan Caylor from Environmental Solutions and Innovations. The MWBWG thanks all outgoing and previous board members for their service!

March 3-6, 2015. For its 7th annual meeting, the Midwest Bat Working Group participated in the first ever North American Joint Bat Working Group meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, Western Bat Working Group, and MWBWG met jointly, along with colleagues from Mexico and Canada. Dues were $25 professional/$15 student and registration was $150 for professionals. Over 340 people attended this historic meeting, which included plenary sessions on continental conservation for bats, protections and status updates for bats at risk, and acoustics. This meeting also introduced the NA Bat monitoring program and the North American Bat Conservation Alliance between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The regional working groups held business meetings for their members and there were also open meetings on the recovery of Indiana bats and gray bats. The poster session included almost 50 posters and was a great opportunity for students to network with professional bat biologists. The final day of the meeting was devoted to the 25th Colloquium on the Conservation of Mammals. Over 45 speakers presented on topics such as white-nose syndrome in bats, roosting ecology, ranges and movements of bats, acoustics, genetics, and other mammal ecology. MWBWG presented the Best Oral Presentation award to Caroline Byrne: Describing the social behavior of the Indiana bat at day roost sites, and the Best Poster award to Gordon Counts: Changes in bat community composition during seasonal fall migration in Northwest Tennessee.

Special thanks go to all the meeting sponsors and vendors (in alphabetical order): Batgoods.com; Bat Conservation International; Bat Conservation and Management; Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation at Indiana State University; Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.; Eco-Tech Consultants; Environmental Solutions & Innovations, Inc.; GAI Consultants; ICF International; Lotek Wireless Fish & Wildlife Monitoring; Missouri Bat Census; Natural Resource Group; Organization for Bat Conservation; SCI Engineering, Inc.; Stantec; Terracon; Titley Scientific USA; West, Inc.; Wildlife Acoustics; and Midwest Bat Working Group, Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, and Western Bat Working Group!

2016

January 20, 2016. The Board decided to support MWBWG’s first student member professional development opportunity at the 2016 meeting. This event for student members is provided through the membership dues fund. It shall provide an opportunity for networking and learning about various career paths in biology, ecology, and other natural resource fields interacting with representative professionals from various backgrounds.

March 15, 2016. Brianne Walters announced the results of the 2016 Board of Directors election. The Board welcomes a new Vice President, Jennifer Norris (Ohio DNR) and Secretary, Marne Titchenell (The Ohio State University), returning Directors, Kari Kirshbaum (US Forest Service), J. Paul White (Wisconsin DNR), and Vanessa Rojas (ISU Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation), as well as new members Brian Heeringa (US Forest Service), Joe Kath (Illinois DNR), and our new Student Representative, Tim Divoll (ISU Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation). They are joining Rob Mies (President) and Brianne Walters (Treasurer) and existing Directors, Tim Carter and Megan Caylor. The MWBWG thanks all outgoing and previous board members for their service!

April 21-22, 2016. The 8th Annual Midwest Bat Working Group meeting, hosted by the Ohio Bat Working Group, was held at the Ohio Union at The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus, Ohio. The group now has 102 members, with 23 students and 79 professionals. Dues were $25 professional/$15 student and registration was $55 professional/ $35 student. Our meeting continues to grow with 179 people in attendance from various government agencies, universities, non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and others. Thanks go to our sponsors and vendors who truly made this meeting possible! Gold sponsors were Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.; The Nature Conservancy; OSU, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife (ODOW); and USDA’s Forest Service. Silver Sponsors were Apogee; EcoTech Consultants; ERM; Organization for Bat Conservation; Stantec; Wildlife Acoustics; and Wildlife Integration. Bronze sponsors were Copperhead Evnironmental Consulting; GAI Consultants; Titley Scientific; and Power Engineers. Vendors were Bat Conservation and Management; Indiana State University Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation; Missouri Bat Census; and West Environmental & Statistical Consultants.

Our keynote speaker, Jim McCormac, from the ODOW, was well-received with his talk about the intricate links between botany, bugs, and bats. Five invited speakers updated the group on white-nose syndrome (WNS), a Midwest habitat conservation plan for wind energy, a new spreadsheet for submitting bat data to USFWS, and an update on the North American Bat Conservation Alliance (NABCA). Fifteen submitted papers covered various topics, including WNS, bats and wind power, bat ecology, acoustics, and mitigation tools. During lunch on the first day, the MWBWG’s first student member professional development opportunity (‘student-professional mixer’) was a hit! Eighteen student members signed up to enjoy a free lunch with six professionals from diverse backgrounds. Professionals shared details on various career paths and answered questions from student participants. At the end of the first day, participants re-grouped at the Ohio Union for the poster session and meeting social. There were a total of 11 poster presentations. Volunteer judges awarded two MWBWG student awards at $100 each. The best oral presentation went to Tim J. Divoll: Archiving bat skin biopsies: storage method matters for prospective stable isotope analysis. The best poster presentation award went to Amy K. Wray: Effects of WNS on bat activity and insect abundance in southern Wisconsin.

September 27, 2016. The Midwest Bat Working Group officially achieved Non-profit status through the state of Michigan.


MWBWG History 2008 - 2016