Stepping up to the plate for bats

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Just as baseball season is starting to heat up, we take time on April 17 to pay our respects to a different kind of bat. Bat Appreciation Day represents an opportunity to learn more about the important role bats play in ecology and biodiversity.

In 1982, a group of concerned scientists founded Bat Conservation International (BCI). The goal of BCI includes the preservation of bats and their habitats through a combination of education, conservation and research.

The most common bat species in the Country Culture region are the little brown bat, the big brown bat, the Eastern pipistrelle bat, the Northern long-eared bat, the Indiana bat, the small-footed bat, the silver-haired bat, the red bat, the hoary bat, the Seminole bat and the evening bat. (As you can see, many are named by their appearance.)

In total, there are more than 1,400 species of bats worldwide – that’s more species than any other mammal. About 48 species of bats call the U.S. their home.

According to Wikidates, bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Since many bats (about 70% of the species) are insectivores, they eliminate of a lot of nasty insects. Bats are also pollinators – so along with butterflies and bees, they provide an important link in our food supply.

Deforestation, mining, irresponsible tourism and human activities in general have caused the number of bats to decrease significantly. Also a major problem is white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that decimated bat populations over the past two decades. The fungus grows in cold, dark and damp places. It attacks the bare skin of bats while they’re hibernating. Fortunately, there are ways you can help bats fight against WNS.

Providing some excellent information, as always, on Northeastern bats is Penn State Extension. Check out this informative post: “A Homeowner’s Guide to Northeastern Bats and Bat Problems.”

And, if you’re like me and love taking care of the sky puppies, consider building a bat box. By recognizing the important role bats play for all of us, you can give back to them by providing them a safe space to roost. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides some great blueprints on bat boxes, along with a how-to video.

Take some time today, this week and this summer to thank our night-flying friends.

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