State News

Bats are on the move

Bat Week takes place Oct. 24-31, aims to raise awareness, conservation

The onset of fall sends Vermont’s bats into motion, which makes it an important time for conservation-minded Vermonters to learn about, and help conserve, our nine native bat species.

If you have noticed bats roosting in your attic, barn, or office over the summer, fall is the perfect time to safely evict these uninvited guests from your property. This is because summer groups of bats that roost in buildings begin to scatter in the fall, in preparation for migration or hibernation.

Courtesy VTF&W
Bat houses are a great alternative for bats you need to evict from your home, but they do require some maintenance in the late fall or winter to clean out abandoned wasp nests and repair any leaks.

You can help bat conservation efforts by reporting large colonies of bats living in structures to the department’s website. Locations with rare colonies of endangered little brown bats are eligible for free bat houses from Vermont Fish and Wildlife. Bat houses provide an alternative location for safely evicted bats to remain in your yard and continue eating huge quantities of insects that may be forest, agricultural, or human pests.

Bat houses can be put up any time of year but do require some simple maintenance. Late fall or winter is the time to look up inside your bat house and make sure all the bats have left before cleaning out any abandoned wasp nests and planning any needed caulking or repainting.

“Fall also means Halloween, and scary images of bats, but this presents an opportunity to bring positive attention to bats as well,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Small Mammals Biologist Alyssa Bennett. “So, we celebrate ‘Bat Week’ in the days leading up to Halloween.”

Bennett added that learning about the importance of bats in our ecosystems does not mean the public should overlook the department’s guidance on safety in cases of contact with wild animals.

“We ask the public let wildlife be wild and not handle bats, even though the incidence of rabies is less than 1% in the natural population,” said Bennett. “If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, if you find one in a room with a sleeping person or an unattended child, or if your pet has had direct contact with a bat, please call the Rabies Hotline at 1-800-4-RABIES to find out if the bat should be tested.”

Bat Week takes place Oct. 24-31 and aims to raise awareness about the vital ecological function of bats and to dispel the many myths and misinformation about them.

This year, Bennett will be giving a public talk about Vermont’s nine native bat species at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury on Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 6-7 p.m. You can register for the talk on the department’s events page.

Email [email protected] for more information about what they can do right here in Vermont to promote bat conservation.

“Vermont is home to several species of threatened and endangered bats that we are working to conserve and recover—we hope Vermonters will support these efforts and come to enjoy seeing bats in their natural environment,” said Bennett. “Bats are a very important part of our natural world and now, more than ever, they need our help.”

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