Stop the Mining that is Threatening an Endangered Gray Bat Colony and an Animal Rescue
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A 60 acre aggregate strip mining operation is proposed that is threatening an endangered Gray Bat colony, a local animal rescue and the peaceful existence of a small community. The proposed mining site will be mined for 20-50 years. The mining concern will pull sand and gravel from an area adjacent to the Meramec river. An office building and scales will be added to the site so that the material can be sold from the same site. The mining operator estimates that the mine will operate 5-6 days a week and that approximately 70 dump trucks will be on the road on any given day. That means 70 dump trucks at a trip into the site and a trip out of the site will pass by the residents of the community 140 times in a day which comes to approximately 1 dump truck every 4 minutes.
A colony of endangered Gray Bats was discovered by the adjacent landowner in the summer of 2016. The cave opening is within 25 km (15.5 miles) of the proposed mining activity. It is actually within 930 feet, a comfortable walking distance, from the mining site. While the landowner invited a local biologist out to mist net and take samples, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has not visited the site. The samples and data collected by the biologist were presented to the FWS and they have acknowledged that the bats in the cave are endangered Gray Bats. The biologist did not note any evidence of white nose in this colony. Mapping of the cave was begun by a cave cartographer, invited to the property by the landowner, but the mapping had to be stopped so that the bats would not be disturbed during their hibernation period. The cartographer estimated, from the amount of guano on the floor of the cave, that there could be upwards of 10,000 individuals in this colony. A year long environmental study needs to be performed to determine at what time of year the bats utilize this site and how they utilize the site before the idea of mining can be entertained. It is suspected that this is a maternal colony where the bats give birth to and raise their young. A Gray Bat has 1 offspring a year. Disturbing this maternal colony and possibly causing the birth rates to drop could be devastating to this colony. The Gray Bat Recovery Plan states: 'any activities that might adversely affect the foraging habitat within 25 km (15.5 miles) of major Gray Bats caves should be carefully examined and modified, if necessary, to protect the habitat.'
The threatened animal rescue/sanctuary is a 501(c)(3), no kill, all animal rescue that specializes in abandoned and abused individuals. A 40 acre farm site was purchased 3 years ago for the express purpose of expanding the capacity of the rescue. This year-to-date, the rescue has placed just under 60 cats/kittens, dogs/puppies and a donkey. These adoptions all require a home visit and at least 1 follow up visit. All animals are given first year vaccinations or 3 year vaccinations if the animal is over a year old. All are spayed and neutered by the rescue. This rescue does not charge an adoption fee because it believes that the best home is not always the home that can afford to spend 250-450 in adoption fees. The rescue also serves as an area food bank, helping those who cannot afford dog and cat food for their pets. This rescue also offers a low cost spay and neuter program. The rescue also performs community outreach by travelling to local schools and educating students on the need for animal rescue, care of their personal pets and the need to be good stewards of the earth. The roads that the dump trucks will be travelling border the rescue property on 3 sides. This means that the trucks will actually be passing the rescue 4 times in a round trip. The rescue faces loss of use of pastures due to noise (a dump truck is 90-95 decibels) and the increase in diesel emission particulates which can mean an increase in respiratory problems in animals that are already immunocompromised due to the stress of the mental & physical illness/injuries that they are already battling. If the mining is approved, the rescue and all the animal residents will have to relocate due to the noise, pollution and loss of use of needed pasture, and this may bankrupt the rescue.
For more information on the rescue and the plight of the bats, please visit hootiesrescuehaven on Facebook. The vote by the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled for 12/9/16. We need caring voices and we need them quickly. Thanks for listening and acting.
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