Bats, kangaroo mice, sage grouse on wildlife agenda | NevadaAppeal.com

Bats, kangaroo mice, sage grouse on wildlife agenda

Bats, kangaroo mice and sage grouse will be among the beneficiaries from a series of Nevada Division of Wildlife projects approved Tuesday.

The projects are all authorized in contracts approved by the Board of Examiners. Largest on the list is a $140,000 contract in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service to build what was described as “bat compatible gates” on abandoned mines throughout the state.

Wildlife Diversity Administrator Laura Richards there are 17 species of bat in Nevada and that 14 of them are listed as “sensitive.” Thousands of old mines in the state must be somehow closed off so people don’t enter them and get injured or killed. But in the past, that meant permanently sealing the mine entrances.

“A lot of abandoned mines are maternity roosts for bats,” she said.

The idea is to build gates that prevent people from entering old mines while allowing the bats free access.

The state is providing another $120, 000, also in cooperation with the Forest Service, for a project to fence off and restore springs and aspen habitat in eastern Nevada. Richards said the riparian restoration will help numerous species of wildlife in the area, including sage grouse and pygmy rabbits.

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Nevada will provide $40,000 toward a study managed by Occidental College to study the genetics and provide recommendations to help conserve the Great Basin kangaroo mouse. Richards said the mice are “relatively rare” and nocturnal, so few Nevadans have actually seen one. The federal government will pay most of the contract which totals $160,000.

Finally, the state will use $98,572 in conservation bond money to make improvements to the water supply relied on by wildlife in the Steptoe Valley Wildlife Management Area. Richards said the project will provide significantly more water for wildlife ranging from sage grouse to elk, as well as livestock in the area. High Mark Construction received the contract.

State Environmental Protection officials also won approval for an $89,957 contract to study mercury pollution in the air. Specifically, scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno will determine whether more mercury is released in the air from land disturbed by current mining activity than from similar land not disturbed by mining.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.