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Climbers Scale New Heights To Find Bats, Help Protect Species

By Michael Abeyta

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Climbers have an opportunity to help protect a lesser-known animal in Colorado, one that teams them up with biologists who study bats.

The weather Friday morning in the Poudre Canyon wasn't exactly ideal for rock climbing. It was cold and foggy, but that has never stopped Ben Scott.

Ben Scott (credit: CBS)

"I've been climbing for over 22 years now," he said. "It will be interesting to see how numb you get up there."

Safe to say, he's seen a lot while out enjoying Colorado, including bats.

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(credit: Ravenswood Media)

"It's usually when we are camping or something like that we see them in the evenings kind of stuff, but occasionally we'll find a bat in a crack or a crevice on a route."

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(credit: CBS)

CSU biologist Robert Schorr studies those bats. One of the things he is trying to track down is where they live so that he can protect them from threats like the deadly White Nose Syndrome.

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Robert Schorr (credit: CBS)

"Now we don't have access to a lot of large populations like that so we can say, 'Okay, we've identified declines now we know what's happening,'" said Schorr.

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(credit: CBS)

That's why he created "Climbers for Bat Conservation." It's a collaboration between bat biologists and rock climbers. He wants climbers to report bat sightings so that biologists can track them down.

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(credit: Ravenswood Media)

"Knowing that they see bats sometimes more regularly than I do lets me know and other biologists know that there may be a reason to pay attention to these areas," said Schorr.

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(credit: CBS)

Scott doesn't mind helping out because for him climbing and conservation go hand in hand. He knows some climbers might worry that reporting bats will limit their access to routes, but he and Schorr promise that's not their goal. Their goal is just to protect a lesser-known Colorado animal and they encourage other climbers to help out.

(credit: CBS)

"By interacting with bat biologists and giving them information about new bat habitats, it's really a win-win for everybody," said Scott.

LINK: Climbers For Bat Conservation

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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