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Phone: 512-327-9721
PO Box 162603
Austin
Texas 78716
USA
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Bracken Cave in the Texas Hill Country is the home of the world’s largest mammal colony—twenty million Mexican Free tail bats migrate to the site every year. Bracken Cave is on BCI-owned property and access has been limited to research staff and VIP guests for decades. The site is featured in the National Geographic documentary Strange Creatures Of The Night, the National Geographic’s Kids website and was the focus of a Kratt Brothers “Be the Creature” episode.  The Nature Conservancy identifies Bracken Cave as the world’s largest colony of mammals and the director of Boston University’s Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology calls Bracken Cave “one of the great wonders of the world.”   Bracken Cave is a maternity colony, one of the safe havens for these bats to have their single pup each summer. Adult bats weigh no more than two quarters and yet they are capable of flying at great altitude and traveling long distances. Seen individually, each bat is a marvel of engineering--and quite appealing with soft fur and tiny ears. Bears, eagles and buffalo are iconic American mammals, but a visit to Bracken inspires guests to add bats to the list.    

Bracken’s acres are gradually becoming a showplace of natural, Hill Country habitat in the midst of suburban development, and the millions of young bats at Bracken will benefit from having the best conditions possible as they first learn to fly and feed. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have developed a comprehensive plan for habitat restoration and management. This plan is based on decades of combined experience, including three years of on-site experimentation in which restoration approaches (and the cost and feasibility of volunteer and contracting options) have been tested. Decades of fire prevention and overgrazing have allowed an unnatural proliferation of ashe juniper which increasingly deprives young bats of required feeding opportunities and threatens the reserve’s diverse wildlife. Surrounding lands are being engulfed by urban sprawl, contributing to the urgency of our restoration efforts.

While the day to day work of clearing juniper isn’t glamorous—the wildflowers that are flourishing in the open spaces are quite spectacular.   The re-establishment of native grasses, oaks, and wildflowers in a mosaic of habitats throughout the Bracken Nature Reserve property is most notable in the springtime. Some of the native species of flowers and grasses we have planted at Bracken probably haven’t been seen in this part of the hill country in decades. Habitat restoration and management is a long-term and costly commitment, but one that is vital to protecting our planet’s largest remaining community of mammals.    Bracken’s acres are gradually becoming a showplace of natural, Hill Country habitat in the midst of suburban development, and the millions of young bats at Bracken will benefit from having the best conditions possible as they first learn to fly and feed. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have developed a comprehensive plan for habitat restoration and management. This plan is based on decades of combined experience, including three years of on-site experimentation in which restoration approaches (and the cost and feasibility of volunteer and contracting options) have been tested. Decades of fire prevention and overgrazing have allowed an unnatural proliferation of ashe juniper which increasingly deprives young bats of required feeding opportunities and threatens the

Mission:
Bat Conservation International’s mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems in order to ensure a healthy planet.
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02/23/14
Working at BCI and I cannot say enough about what a great organization it is--we really do work so very hard to protect the bats of the world--mostly by engaging local support. When communities everywhere discover the VALUE and VULNERABILITY of bats, they become bat conservationists... more »
12/28/13
They are a wonderful group of bat experts from around the world that work together to help conserve bats. They offer training programs and grants to help bats. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department stated they are bats experts. BCI and Fish & Wildlife Services are currently the two main bat expert ... more »
08/30/12
Bat Conservation International is an amazing place to work. The staff cares deeply about programming, our partners around the world are amazing, and the wildlife professionals we work witn across the USA are doing such important work in National Parks, National Forests, Tribal Nations, and many ... more »
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