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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Bat Conservation International, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Environment, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Protection of Endangered Species, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: Bat Conservation International’s mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems in order to ensure a healthy planet.

Programs: 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

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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 other wild spaces.

Mary.C

Donor

Rating: 5

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 groups who are helping bats with White Nose Syndrome.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It is so important to publicize the plight of bats. They are not only wonderful creatures, but very important to our ecosystem.

Donor

Rating: 2

I joined BCI in the mid nineties and they were wonderful back then and for many years. Their work was commendable and I always knew where my money was going when Merlin Tuttle was at the helm. However, I have not seen the same leadership or quality of work since his departure. I hope this changes in the near future. It would be a shame to see Tuttle's amazing life work, and all the good he did for bats, go the way of fat pay checks for staff now. Very disheartening.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

BCI was the first international organization helping bats and works in a broad spectrum of ways to protect them through education, research, fundraising, conservation efforts and acting as an information clearing house, among other activities. I have always found this organization to be ambitious, reliable and effective. This is a crucial go-to resource for anyone interested in bats and I refer people to their website regularly. I have found their personnel to be helpful, knowledgeable and courteous. This organization gets an A+ in my book, and for that reason, I donate as much as I can to them and have done so for many years. Thank you for the great and important work. Keep at it as bats are the most crucial of creatures.

1

Donor

Rating: 4

Love their work. My one comment for staff: wish you were better at thanking people... I did a birthday fundraiser that raised almost $1000 which I then matched, and I got a form letter almost 4 months later, nothing else. A small thing, but it mattered to me how hard I worked to get that gift; it should matter to your development staff, too.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

thank you bat conservation for showing the world that bats ARE beautiful ♥
the world of bats
to some so strange
a world of fear
a world deranged
but in the dark
can you see
what they consider
familiarity
as it glows and leads
the way
so they can be bats
another day
and help us humans
as they play♥

Bats are beautiful when you know how to see them♥ karen lyons kalmenson

Columbine P.

Donor

Rating: 5

Bat Conservation International is an evidence-based, highly effective organization working to halt the destruction of bats by habitat loss, environmental damage, and ignorance. Their research and educational activities are desperately needed now that chemically-dependent agriculture is failing so spectacularly and mosquito-borne diseases are spreading further and further from the equator.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a member of the Bat conservation Trust and a bat carer with my local bat group, i am well aware of the problems facing about a quarter of all bat species worldwide. The greatest number of species live near to the equator, where they face the greatest threat, destruction and fragmentation of their habitats and overhunting by humans who are ignorant to their status and importance.. Bat Conservation International does a fantastic job in many countries that have little in the way of local groups dedicated to conservation. They help local groups to educate people about the importance of bats and to gather important data about the distribution of species that we know next to nothing about. Without Bat Conservation International many people accross the world would remain ignorant of the wonder and importance of these much misunderstood creatures. With education comes understanding and ultimately a new generation of humans dedicated to helping bats to survive.

Debbie31

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

There is just something special about organizations which care about the least among us or those that others may ignore. Bat Conservation International, Inc. does such a wonderful job of letting the public know how important bats are to us and why they are as deserving of our love and protection as any other animal. I applaud their efforts and support them. I have to admit I was a big vampire fan so I was always fond of bats, but understanding the real plight of these maligned creatures has made me even more concerned for their survival.

Donor

Rating: 5

BCI has opened me up to a world I didn't really know about: how important bats are to ecosystems all over the world. I love the educational work they do and I enjoy supporting an organization that does so much with the dollars it receives.

arp

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Bat Conservation International is addressing the health of the planet--OUR PLANET--by protecting the world's bats. Bats make up more than 20% of the known mammal species on Earth--and the volume and variety of bats is necessary for so many elements of caretaking--pollination, seed dispersal, insect control. Bat conservation is accomplished through education and successful protection partnerships, and BCI excels at both. The work they do is unique and important and they are a very good nonprofit to support.

Previous Stories
1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It would be impossible to see this natural wonder and learn about bat conservation and NOT BECOME A SUPPORTER. Honestly, for those of us that think of tigers and polar bears when we think of wildlife--this nonprofit will teach you just how terribly much SMALL MATTERS.

Emily29

Donor

Rating: 5

Most people think it's strange to champion bats, but Bat Conservation International is helping combat that. This wonderful organization has helped me educate many friends and family members, who, like so many, believe all the terrible myths about bats. When BCI first started, they chose Austin, TX, as their base of operations because a colony of bats was roosting under the Congress Avenue Bridge, and people, reacting from fear, were killing the bats. Rather than approach this with hand-wringing woe, BCI instead took an educational approach. And now the Congress Ave. colony is a tourist attraction! If only all organizations could be so effective. They are also wonderful about responding to members, and I've received several personal emails from the president and others. Bat Conservation has my continued support in all that they do.

Laurie M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bat Conservation International was originally founded to counter misinformation about bats. They have done an excellent job of education in the U.S. and around the world, saving unknown numbers of bats. Now, THE BATS REALLY NEED OUR HELP. There is a mysterious plague affecting bat colonies which is wiping them out at an alarming rate. Millions have died. The effect of no bats will be disaster for agriculture. Bats eat lierally tons of agricultural pests. With no bats, farmers will be using way more toxic pesticides instead, harming the environment even more. Bats are also important pollinators. Less bats = more pesticides = harm to beneficial organisms including bees (which also pollinate our crops). A vicious cycle which will have a very bad effect on our agricultural production and our environment--which ultimately affects us all.

Daniela P.

Donor

Rating: 5

White-Nose Syndrome is a major epidemic for bats. (WNS) is a poorly understood disease associated with the deaths of at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million North American bats. Without the dedication of Bat Conservation International, I would not have known the severity of the situation. Bats are critical to our ecosystem, they kill billions of bugs (pests) each year. We need BCI to continue to educate the public on the importance of bats. I support BCI annually, I'm grateful for the work they are doing!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bat Conservation International members discover the world of bats--and how valuable bats are to the planet. From the magazine to the conservation projects it is evident that everyone at BCI cares about conservation and communication!

Review from CharityNavigator

Client Served

Rating: 5

Many years ago, La Boca Cave used to host an important population of Mexican Free-tailed bat as well as other species. Easy access to the cave made it so vulnerable that the populations had decreased to a very low number. Thanks to the efforts of Pronatura in coordination with Tecnologico de Monterrey, Tecnologico de Ciudad Victoria and the absolute and unconditional support from BCI, populations of both Mexican Free-tailed bat and Ghost-faced bat have recovered during the last three years. While protecting this maternity cave, we conserve a rich ecosystem and the habitat of a bat population that helps us to get more abundant crops and reduce numbers of disease vectors in a wide area. It is not only about a fence: educational material from BCI helps our students to transform our visitors to the cave into our partners in conservation.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The work BCI does is unique and valuable. It is odd that Charity Navigator said they do not see audited financials on the website--I found them in BCI's annual report. I think BCI deserves a much higher numerical rating and I hope Charity Nav updates it soon when they do their annual check.

Review from CharityNavigator

1 Kelsey B.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love the work this organization has done to try and save bats. From education and awareness to helping find a cure for White-Nose Syndrome. I've learned a lot from their outreach and hope to volunteer for them when I get the chance. I am proud to be a member and have no concerns when I donate to them.