Help protect New York's bat populations during 'Bat Week'

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
"Bat Week" is observed to raise awareness about the environmental importance of bats.

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 Oct. 24-31 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 Oct. 1 through April 30, the typical period of hibernation for bats, may be subject to prosecution.

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" at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/batsofny.pdf.