Bat Week is a an internationally recognized weeklong focus to raise awareness about the important role bats play in our environment and is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. Bat Week is observed October 24 through 31 and is organized by representatives from conservation groups and government agencies in the United States and Canada.
Unfortunately, many species of bats, including little brown bats, have faced severe population declines due to white-nose syndrome. The disease has killed more than 90 percent of bats at hibernation sites in New York.
You can help protect New York’s bat populations by avoiding caves and mines, which may be home to hibernating bats, from October through April. Human disturbances are very harmful to bats. White-nose syndrome makes bats very sensitive to disturbances. Even a single, seemingly quiet visit can kill bats that would otherwise survive the winter. If you see hibernating bats, assume you are doing harm and leave immediately.
Anyone entering a northern long-eared bat hibernation site from October 1 through April 30, the typical period of hibernation for bats, may be subject to prosecution.
Some bat facts:
- They are insect-eating machines, eating thousands of mosquitoes and other flying insects in a single night!
- Bats use echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to detect and catch insects.
- Bats are more closely related to primates than to mice.
- They are the only mammal that can fly.
Learn more about bats in Bats of New York State (PDF).
Photo by Al Hicks.
Have been aware of the problem for about 10 years now, but we get little feedback from DEC with regard to current status, trends, and current efforts to remediate the problem. I had “heard” somewhere that the situation had stabilized, but have no confirmation of that.
If the DEC cannot answer, can anyone point me in the direction of up-to-date data??
Until recently, we’ve had several years of no evening bat sightings over our rural Oswego County pond. We were elated this Summer to very occasionally see some of these flying mammals performing their bug scooping maneuvers at dusk. Anecdotal of course, but we take it as an encouraging sign.
Until recently I would have a small number of LBBs “nesting” in the roof of my porch every summer. This year I noticed one or two showed up very early and were actively feeding during the day – then nothing. No nesting this year. I suspect they were starving and could not find enough to eat when they awoke and succumbed. Sad.
I live in the Hudson valley, Should I get a bat box ??
You could, but bats are pretty good about finding their own roosting places. The nice thing about boxes is they have the ability to hold many bats in a small place, and many bats like company.
If you are going to be altering your housing structures in order to exclude existing bats, offering alternative housing should be considered. In addition, if you are planning these changes to your structures (barns, sheds, attics, etc.) avoid doing it mid-season when bats are in the area and actively roosting in those structures. Pretty stressful to lose your home while you are trying to sleep!
I should add the downside to bat boxes is similar to bird houses. They need to be placed carefully to offer warmth from the sun (in our area) and safety from predators. They also need to be inspected regularly as wasps can fill them up as well.