The images that tend to come to mind when we hear the word bat are often not pleasant. We associate bats with either the spookiness of Halloween and blood-sucking vampires, or the pests that infest and inhabit the darkest corners of our homes. While it’s true that it is probably cleaner to keep bats out of our attics, bats are actually extremely beneficial to our local and global ecosystems, as many of the blog posts below attest. In reality, humans pose a much larger threat to the health and well-being of bats, than bats pose to that of humans.
Most major threats to bat proliferation come from the careless practices of people. Of the 17 bat species in Virginia, 3 are federally endangered. These Virginia bats inhabit either caves or hollowed, decaying trees. Due to deforestation and subsequent development, thousands of bats are finding themselves displaced from their homes and searching for makeshift, hibernation friendly environments, often taking the form of attics and chimneys. When discovered, people respond with panic and quickly call for exterminators to remove the pests. The negative human portrayal of bats leads to thousands of unnecessary deaths every year. (There have even been incidents of arson in caves, purposefully obliterating bat habitats.) Fortunately the Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Service now performs bat exclusions to safely remove bats and release them into wildlife habitats.
Climate change also puts bats in serious danger. Bats succumb easily to the heat stress associated with global warming. Additionally, as the patterns of seasons begin to alter, bats could become out of sync with the flowering of their food sources. Even our attempts to combat climate change with wind turbines has been destructive to bats (and birds) as many stand as obstacles along their migration pathways, confusing and/or killing them before they reach their destination. It’s time to start incorporating the lives on which our own survival depends into the growth and development plans of our cities! Otherwise, soon it will be the lack of bats, rather than their presence, that poses the problem!
Post by Camille Knable
“Threats to Bats.” Defenders of Wildlife. (2015) Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://www.defenders.org/bats/threats
“Bats in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.” Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services. (September 17, 2010) Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://www.charlottesvilleanimalcontrol.com/?p=1