Skip to main content
Townsend's Big-Eared Bats

The walls have ears! Bats in Arizona's Abandoned Mines

Bats Inhabiting Arizona's Abandoned Mines |
An invited post by Jason Corbett: Director, Subterranean Program, Bat Conservation International
Abandoned or inactive mines are many things to many people. They represent fortune or failure, boom times or economic busts, unlimited potential, a dangerous hole in the group, or an inviting space for exploration. But, did you know that abandoned mines are often not abandoned at all?
Not only does Arizona have an abundance of mineral resources, we are also blessed with the second highest bat diversity in these United States. 28 species call Arizona home and around half of them use underground spaces such as abandoned mines for some, or all of their life. Thus, abandoned mines are often fully occupied, by residents we should all cheer, bats!
Bat Conservation International’s Subterranean Program has surveyed thousands of underground mines around Arizona to help with public safety efforts while ensuring bats and their unique habitat are preserved in the process. Our decades of experience and training allow us to enter into these places and identify the ones that need protection.
The Arizona Geological Survey has been an outstanding partner over the years in providing mine information to us ahead of our surveys that help inform us of what might be ahead and lie below. Check out these Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) that we found roosting in an old copper mine in southern Arizona.
Text & photo courtesy of J. Corbett