First new bat species discovered in Minnesota in more than a century

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in collaboration with Central Lakes College, has discovered a bat species new to Minnesota, the evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis).  

Evening bat caught at Minnesota Army National Guard's Training Site in Arden Hills.

“It’s very exciting to discover a new bat species in the state,” said DNR endangered species coordinator Rich Baker. “The evening bat’s historic range extends as far north as central Iowa. As our project proceeds, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more evening bats. For now, we don’t know if this was an isolated individual blown north in a storm, or if this species has indeed expanded its range into Minnesota.”

Mammal species new to the state are extremely rare, with the most recent being a shrew in 1991.

The bat was caught in early July at the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Training Site in Arden Hills. Researchers from the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and Central Lakes College were conducting a survey as part of the three-year project to study summer breeding habits of the state’s forest bats.

They determined the bat that was caught was different than the seven species of documented Minnesota bats. On Wednesday, July 27, the DNR received confirmation from a national bat genetics lab in Arizona that it was an evening bat.

The bat study is supported by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the National Guard, and donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.