Yes, they are ugly, no doubt about that. Bats have a face that only a mother could love. But they are very helpful. Unfortunately bats are in real jeopardy. A disease is spreading among bats called white-nose syndrome. It looks like a white fuzz on bats’ faces. It is caused by a fungus that attacks the bare skin of bats and is spread from one bat to another. It makes bats more active than usual, causing them to burn up their stored energy and fat that they need to survive through the winter. So far it has killed millions of bats in North America. This need not be a death sentence, though. We can help slow the spread of this vicious fungus. First of all, and this is a simple one; stay out of caves, tunnels and mines and anywhere bats may be hibernating. We don’t want to disturb them, and have them fly in and out of the caves. Plus, our presence there could cause us to pick up and spread the fungus spores, thus infecting more bats. If you find a bat that is sick or in a place where you don’t want it, contact your local wildlife agency.
Bats provide a valued ecosystem services in the form of pest consumption, plant pollination, and seed dispersal, making them vital to our planet. More than 200 bat species in 60 countries around the world are considered threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Together, we can stabilize these populations and prevent extinctions.
Today, bats are under unprecedented threat from widespread habitat destruction, accelerated climate change, invasive species, and other stresses. Without concerted international action, their populations will continue to fall, driving many species to extinction. And the sad truth is that we need them more than they need us. Without bats who is going to eat the bugs (especially mosquitos), who is going to aid in pollination and seed dispersal? We need these little ugly guys.
There is an organization called Bat Conservation International https://www.batcon.org/ which works to assist these little heroes. I invite you to visit their site because you will learn so much about bats and their place in the ecosystem. You can make a donation, or pick up some snazzy merchandise, learn about gardening for bats and get instructions for building your very own bat house! Bats are safer living in a bat house because it does not have the dampness needed for fungus to thrive. If you don’t subscribe to the do-it-yourself method, you can go online and find bat houses for sale. Just make sure you are purchasing a quality house, you want something that will accommodate bats and withstand weather.
Till the next time.
“All good things are wild and free.” Thoreau