The Ozark big-eared bat needs our help

Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, can play a big role.

USFWS | Public Domain

Take Action

Curled up in a cave at night, the Ozark big-eared bat wraps itself tightly inside its wings, its enormous pointed ears, comical in size, dwarfing the rest of its body. Dawn is breaking through as the bat settles down from a long night of flying and hunting. Its lumpy, piggish nose and tiny face rimmed in tufts of fur give the creature the appearance of a cartoon animal. 

An Uncertain Future

Native to Arkansas and Oklahoma, the Ozark big-eared bat is an endangered species found only in a handful of caves across its range. These bats are critical to their ecosystems, balancing insect populations and providing guano that supports other cave dwellers.  But factors such as human disturbance, loss of habitat, and especially white-nose syndrome—a lethal fungal disease—threaten the future of these tiny animals. 

A wildlife refuge for bats 

To protect them, the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1986 to prevent the extinction and begin to recover this bat and other species unique to the area. The wildlife refuge is open only for permitted research and education, which means the big-eared bats can safely live and reproduce. 

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 

The wildlife refuge is in Oklahoma. The bat’s range is greater, which raises the question: What is Arkansas doing to protect the Ozark big-eared bat? 

For starters, the species is on the Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan, meaning that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission considers the bat a “species of greatest conservation need.” The state’s plan calls for conducting research, gathering data, protecting the bat’s caves, and following through on the state’s part of the national white-nose syndrome plan. 

All this takes funding. 

That’s why we are working to convince Congress to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a monumental bill that would give each state the resources to restore habitat, control invasive species, reconnect landscapes, study species, collect data and more.

With $1.4 billion annually for states, territories and tribal lands, this bill would ensure that Arkansas could follow through on its action plan and work to save the big-eared bat, along with other vulnerable Arkansas species such as the American black duck, yellowcheek darter (a fish), the chicken turtle and 400+ more. 

These species need our help, and we need to act fast.

A key lawmaker in Arkansas

Office of Bruce Westerman | Public Domain

Representative Bruce Westerman is the chairman of House Natural Resources Committee. He is perfectly positioned to ensure that the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act becomes law. 

If he takes this on, we can give the Ozark big-eared bat a foothold on survival — as well as the more 12,000 species on wildlife action plans in one state or another. 


Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America

Steve directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them. He led our successful campaign to win full and permanent funding for our nation’s best conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He previously oversaw U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns. Steve lives in Sacramento, California, with his family, where he enjoys biking and exploring Northern California.

Zoe Garderet

Wildlife Intern

Zoe Garderet is a senior at Tufts University and a wildlife intern for Environment America, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Find Out More
staff | TPIN

This Giving Tuesday, help defend our oldest forests.

Mature forests are on the chopping block. With your support, we can stand up for the trees. We’ve set a goal of raising $40,000. Will you donate today?