BRACKEN, Texas - The historic drought is changing the behavior of the stars of one of Texas' natural summer marvels, raising fears the spectacle next year may be less spectacular.
Millions of bats around Texas are emerging earlier for nightly food runs, meaning they're more susceptible to natural predators. Some bat experts also see evidence more infant bats are dying, though they won't know until next year how the population is being affected.
Some 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats make Bracken Cave, about an hour northeast of San Antonio, the world's largest concentration of bats. Every evening from March into November they leave the collapsed sinkhole to eat. Thanks to the drought, their favorite dinner of insects is in shorter supply so they're leaving home about two hours earlier to begin their hunt.