The myth of Dracula haunting the living has a number of real-world side effects, and the worst one is the unfair demonization of bats. People have wrongly associated bats with death and disease. This is why they’ve been burned out of roosts and killed for years, though public education campaigns and government legislation are fighting these ancient misconceptions. Unfortunately, the years have taken a toll and caused bat populations to plummet. Asking people to install bat roosts helps, but it isn’t enough. Let’s learn more about the newest strategies to save bats from extinction.
Protecting the Bats’ Homes
It is already against the law to disturb bats in their roost (resting place) or nest. It is illegal to destroy where they rest or sleep, too, whether it is done intentionally or by accident. British law in recent decades has evolved to take endangered species like bats into consideration from the very start of any project. Do you want to build a new building? Do you want to renovate an existing one? You’ll need to bring in the experts from a company like arbtech.co.uk to do a site survey. This will identify where bats are and their habits. You are not allowed to block their access to a roosting or nesting site, but you can take steps to discourage them or outright relocate them.
Finding Homes for Bats
It is illegal for British residents to intentionally or recklessly kill bats. You’re not allowed to handle them unless it is for humane purposes, such as preventing them from being eaten by a cat or taking an injured one to the vet. But this only protects the bats for being killed outright. This won’t help them to prosper. The solution is to find homes for bats. And this is why bat boxes are being built, especially near ponds and lakes. The bat box gives the bats a home close to their favorite food source, flying insects. The ideal bat boxes will attract bats from their current home, allowing you to legally seal it up.
Bat boxes should be located in sunny locations that are not too sunny. East facing locations are generally ideal. The boxes should be high enough up to protect the bats from predators like cats. They’ll prefer sites near water, though this isn’t an issue if the bat box is near a pond. Once it is built, it is low maintenance.
Increasing Available Habitat
Bats that eat flying insects like mosquitos don’t have trouble finding food, though they may die if they eat too many mosquitos sprayed with insecticides. However, other species are literally starving for habitat. For example, pollinating bats are often critically endangered because there are not enough of the right trees and fruiting plants around that they’ve evolved to eat. In these cases, building bat boxes isn’t enough, while preserving their habitat becomes essential to their survival. For example, Bracken Cave is the largest colony of Mexican freetail bats in the world. A nonprofit organization initially purchased five acres of land around the cave to protect it. Over 25 years, they’ve expanded it to cover 1400 acres a short distance from the growing city of San Antonio, Texas.
Habitat restoration is the next step. For example, agave plants are being restored in Mexico to aid pollinating bats in the southwestern United States and Mexico. In other places, abandoned mines are being turned into literal bat caves.
Addressing Threats to Bats
White nose syndrome or WNS is a fungus that has killed millions of bats worldwide. There are natural control regimes that may prevent it from taking over in new areas. This is aside from things you can do to reduce disturbance around bat habitats like reducing outdoor lighting, not removing trees and leaving bats alone. While bats are not going to suck your blood, they can carry disease, so don’t handle them and always call-in professionals to deal with them.