Feature photo is the Brown Myotis Bat – Myotis lucifugus
Caron Tayloe is a lifelong Washoe County resident who has been a wildlife watcher since childhood. Here she shares the many reasons bats need and deserve our attention and protection.
Being absolutely in love with Nevada Wildlife has caused this wildlife watcher to monitor trends and events related to wildlife. As wildlife prepare for winter, whether it is hibernation, brumation, migration, or staying in a self-prepared place, it is important to remember that wildlife, as great adapters to the environment, are neighbors who need space and privacy during the autumn and winter months. One example are the ever resilient (and ever maligned) bats who are preparing for hibernation at this time. Bats hibernate in crevices and caves (man-made and natural), in store bought bat houses, just to name a few places.
We also know bats as nature’s insect control since each night the average bat can eat the equivalent of its body weight in insects (Bat Conservation International, Bat Week, website 2021). Just think about how much pesticide is NOT needed, thanks to bats!
Some of the Nevada bat species are doing well and some are in trouble due to climate change and habitat destruction. Nevada has a bat conservation program that can be observed on the Nevada Department of Wildlife website.
Per the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada has 23 species of bats. The NDOW brochure has many fun and amazing facts about bats. For example, did you know that bat guano bacteria is used as a detoxifier in lakes and streams, and is used as a fertilizer?
The conservation program is very outdated but as the Wildlife Action Plan is updated, perhaps the bat conservation plan will be updated also.
Challenges to bats are numerous and most people are aware of the fungus that has killed untold millions of bats in this country in the last 16 years For more information, visit an excellent resource describing how biologists (including NDOW) and others are fighting back the horrible disease that is destroying our precious little bats. You can also track the fungus as it moves closer to Nevada. Let’s keep fighting!
There are many old bat myths and, fortunately, most have been dispelled. However our present time, being what it is, has yielded a fresh litany of myths. It is appalling that bats have been blamed, once again, for viruses that harm people. A non professional review of the research has not proved anything to this wildlife watcher, so far. Ironically, during the same blame-game time, bats are being researched for their fantastic immune system. (The thoughts of my furry little neighbors in a lab is horrific and the ineffective use of wildlife in labs is another essay for another time).
So, today, let’s celebrate our flying, furry co-inhabitants who grace our skies at dusk and at night! This year Bat Conservation International has declared 10/24-10/31 as Bat Week!
It is a celebration of all of the wonderful bats who bring so much to the environment and to all living species.