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Populations of bats are declining due to pesticides and habitat destruction. Most conservation efforts are directed toward eastern Oklahoma species (endangered species) and rarely toward western Oklahoma forms. For example, the migratory Mexican free-tailed bat establishes only a few very large (hundreds of thousands of individuals) maternity roosts in Oklahoma.

bat flight

These caves serve as some of the northernmost maternity roosts for the species. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) recognized the significance of these caves and funded the purchase of a maternity cave. It has developed into an outstanding conservation educational site. That cave is only 1 km from the SLL and offers additional research and education opportunities. The caves on the SLL protect the largest population of hibernating cave myotis (myotis velifer) in Oklahoma (70,000 bats) and they also harbor big brown bats, tri-color bats, pallid cave bats and the Townsend big-eared bat (which has declined drastically in western Oklahoma). The SLL cave systems are exciting frontiers for research and conservation education. When students and the general public experience the plight of America's ecosystems first hand, it is far easier to convert them into conservation champions.