Mining operation could cause dead zone for bats -

Mining operation could cause dead zone for bats

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A bat. Credit: KMOV A bat. Credit: KMOV

A coalition of residents and environmentalists is trying to stop a sand and gravel mining operation on the banks of the Meramec River, south of St. Clair. They fear it could harm a large colony of endangered gray bats that live nearby.

Zoologist and nearby resident Nick Norman told News 4, "We found a maternity colony on our property in an old lead mine that has thousands, thousands upon thousands."

Franklin County and the state of Missouri granted Meramec Aggregates of Union, MO permits to mine sand and gravel along the river in the 1200 block of Levy Road. Norman claims the bats come out at night and feed on insects where the mining operation is taking place, saying the activity could create an insect dead zone.

Missouri Conservation Spokesman Joe Jerek said gray bat roosting areas are federally protected but not their feeding areas. And that bats can travel to other areas to find insects. 

"So bats really have a variety of locations and habitats for their feeding activities. It's our understanding this mining doesn't impact any caves or roosting."     
Norman worries that causing the bats to travel greater distances could disrupt their fragile ecosystem. He says the group's next step is to go to court to stop the mining.

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