In western United States, both mine reclamations and renewed mining at previously abandoned mines have increased substantially in the last decade. This increased activity may adversely impact bats that use these mines for roosting. Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) is a species of conservation concern that may be impacted by ongoing mine reclamation and renewed mineral extraction. To help inform wildlife management decisions related to bat use of abandoned mine sites, we used logistic regression, Akaike's information criterion, and multi-model inference to investigate hibernacula use by Townsend's big-eared bats using 9 years of data from surveys inside abandoned mines in southwestern Colorado. Townsend's big-eared bats were found in 38 of 133 mines surveyed (29%), and occupied mines averaged 2.6 individuals per mine. The model explaining the most variability in our data included number of openings and portal temperature at abandoned mines. In southwestern Colorado, we found that abandoned mine sites with more than one opening and portal temperatures near 0°C were more likely to contain hibernating Townsend's big-eared bats. However, mines with only one opening and portal temperatures of ≥10°C were occasionally occupied by Townsend's big-eared bat. Understanding mine use by Townsend's big-eared bat can help guide decisions regarding allocation of resources and placement of bat-compatible closures at mine sites scheduled for reclamation. When feasible we believe that surveys should be conducted inside all abandoned mines in a reclamation project at least once during winter prior to making closure and reclamation recommendations.
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Vol. 75 • No. 1