Pennsylvania’s Bat Population Receiving High-Tech Protection with Help from Natural Gas Industry Leaders

Harrisburg, PA, December 16, 2015:  Dawood Engineering, Inc. (Dawood) is proud to partner with Williams and the Marcellus Shale Coalition to help protect the health of the bat population through technology.  Bats across Pennsylvania and the eastern United States are facing a devastating disease called White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS decimates bat populations, with some species experiencing a mortality rate of up to 99 percent. To fight this disease, members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Land Affairs Working Group joined together to seek funding from Williams for the purchase of two high-tech cameras for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The cameras will support the Game Commission in their fight to protect bats during their fragile hibernating period.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Land Affairs Work Group was formed to establish and build relationships with the conservation community and has organized several educational events addressing habitat. Dawood, an active member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, has led the efforts of the workgroup for the past two years. 

“Bats play a vital role in the health of our natural ecosystem by consuming vast amounts of insects and through pollinating activities” stated Joy M. Ruff, AICP, co-chair for the Land Affairs Working Group and Director of Planning and Community Relations, Dawood Engineering. “We are very thankful to the Williams Foundation for helping us to fulfill our mission with the purchase of these cameras, which are going to protect sensitive locations.” 

How WNS is spread and how the cameras help protect bats

WNS is caused by a fungus that contaminates caves and abandoned underground mines where bats have historically hibernated over the winter. Bat-to-bat contact is thought to be the leading contributor to the spread of the disease, with bat-to-bat contact increasing when humans enter caves and disturb hibernating bats. Restricting people’s access to caves contaminated by the fungus is believed to be one of the most effective ways to minimize the spread of WNS. 

Cameras purchased with these funds will alert nearby commission authorities via text message when people are in or near restricted caves. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says the ability to receive real-time notification of trespassing, coupled with recorded video, can allow them to intervene and provides necessary evidence to launch investigations and prosecute individuals. Ultimately, the agency believes this will help reduce the number of bat disturbances caused by humans. 

“The Pennsylvania Game Commission is very grateful to Williams Companies for their generous donation.  Together, and through the use of the cameras that will be purchased with this donation, we will improve our ability to protect and manage our valuable resources.” Greg Turner, Endangered and Non-Game Mammal Section Supervisor, Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

“Williams has a dedicated team of Environmental and Compliance professionals who conduct extensive studies and work carefully to preserve and strengthen local habitats and ecosystems during the planning, construction, operational and maintenance phases of the energy infrastructure we build and own. We regularly work with state and federal agencies as well as conservation partners to ensure that we are planning our projects with care,” said Kristy Grigas, Environmental Regulatory Specialist for Williams. “With this donation, Williams is helping to secure more of Pennsylvania’s important habitat areas to ensure that caves and mines have 24 hour surveillance to protect hibernating bats against nuisance activity.” 

Williams is an energy infrastructure company and premier provider of large-scale infrastructure connecting the growing supply of North American natural gas and natural gas products to growing global demand for clean fuels and feedstocks.  Williams owns and operates midstream gathering and processing assets, and interstate natural gas pipelines.  Founded in 1908, Williams employs more than 6,700 people with a regional presence and a local office in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. 

Dawood Engineering, founded in 1992, is headquartered in Pennsylvania serving clients nationally with offices located in West Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Texas. Dawood provides consulting services for a wide range of industries encompassing land development, transportation, and oil and gas. Services include engineering, planning, site development, survey and mapping, traffic analysis/design, geotechnical engineering.

Founded in 2008, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) works with exploration and production, midstream and supply chain partners in the Appalachian Basin and across the country to address issues regarding the production of the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.