Freeport-McMoRan: Bat Heroes of the Southwest

By Sydney Mucha|December 4, 2018

In the deserts of Arizona, one of the three pollinating bat species in the United States—the lesser long-nosed bat—got a boost to its habitat during Bat Week 2018. Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), a long-standing advocate for bats, decided to embody Bat Weeks’ theme of “Be a Bat Hero” last month and strategically planted over 300 agave at three of their southern Arizona sites.

The lesser long-nosed bat is found in the desert scrub habitat of the southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico, an area that has been recently marked by fast growth and development, making habitat scarce. Fortunately, this once-endangered species has made a comeback due to the efforts by local non-profits, government agencies and corporations dedicated to conservation. Efforts such as planting additional agave, which serve as the bats’ primary food source, will continue to help grow the recovering population.

As part of their most recent efforts in conservation, FCX worked with their non-profit partners and community members to plant local agave in areas with known populations of lesser long-nosed bats. The company participated in three plantings for Bat Week, with the first one located near Bisbee, Arizona. FCX, Bat Conservation International (BCI), Borderlands Restoration Network and community volunteers from Cochise SDA School and Community Garden planted agave at two separate locations on FCX property. Staff at FCX’s Sierrita Mine also participated in a Bat Week planting with BCI and community volunteers. Staff at FCX’s Morenci Operations, along with BCI, WHC, and the Gila Watershed Partnership, helped the local high school’s environmental science class plant 100 agave near the town’s water treatment plant. This location will be able to provide migrating bats with a much-needed food source during their journey to Mexico. Along with the planting, Morenci Operations staff also participated in conservation activities that allowed the local schools at Morenci and Duncan to learn about various topics such as pollinators and soil science.

All of these agave plantings will be maintained and monitored by FCX employees to ensure the habitat continues to benefit local populations of lesser long-nosed bats. FCX plans to continue being a “Bat Hero”, with more bat conservation activities planned for the coming year.

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