Across the world, domestic and international law protects bats. . According to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 and the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, bats are and have long been a protected species, bats are and have long been a protected species. These laws forbid:
- Intentional entrapment, harm, or killing of a bat
- Intentionally disturbing a bat in its roost or a colony of bats
- Damaging a bat roost even if the bats are not occupying the roost at the time
- Having, promoting, selling, or trading a bat (alive or dead) or any component of a bat
- Blocking entry to a bat roost
Why are bats federally protected?
Bats are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because their population has substantially decreased over the past few decades. This is the same act that protects iconic species like the bald eagle and grizzly bears and has been immensely successful at helping restore their populations.
There are several reasons for this decline in bat populations:
- low food supply arising from insect population decline brought on by the usage of pesticides
- Rapid reduction of favorable roosting places
- reduction in feeding habitats to deforestation and development
- Use of harmful chemicals to treat wood where bats roost
Although they may be viewed as pests in urban areas, bats are an essential component of our ecology and are legally protected. Each bat in a colony can eat through a fraction of its weight in insects per night. They are therefore an essential component of biological pest control programs, and conserving them lowers the demand for insecticides.
Bats are actually referred to as “misunderstood” by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—the body that oversees the nation’s endangered species program. According to this federal agency, bats help the United States save around $1 billion a year in pesticide and agricultural damage costs.
So, if a bat roost at your house or close to it, you will need to speak with your local government or a competent wildlife removal professional.
Bats pollinate plants as most birds do. As they travel over the Americas, some species of bats eat fruit and disperse seeds. In fact, bats are the only animal that can pollinate the agave plant, which is used to make tequila. As a result, plant species that depend on them for pollination and seed dissemination would struggle to survive without their protected status. Without them, farmers would also have to spend more than they already do to get plants to produce.
Are all bats protected?
There are 40 bat species known to exist in the United States alone, out of 1,100 known species globally. Regrettably, not all bats are covered by federal laws in the US.
Only the bat species listed as endangered are under the protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1956.
- Hawaiian hoary bat
- Florida bonneted bat
- Little Mariana fruit bat
- Mexican long-nosed bat
- Gray bat
- Indiana bat
- Pacific sheath-tailed bat
- Ozark big-eared bat
- Virginia big-eared bat
But what about the bats in my attic?
It’s not unusual for bats to appear in homes and warm attics during the colder months because they travel to warm regions during the colder months. They typically live in attics and crawl spaces, but if the windows are open, they can also get inside.
Most of the time, homeowners don’t need to worry about this issue because the bats will go as soon as the weather heats again. As long as the exits remain clear, they can also leave anytime.
A year-round presence of bats in your home may show that they are living somewhere nearby. If you need to remove them or clean up the area where they live, you will need the help of wildlife professionals.
Professionals can help you humanely catch and relocate bats using nets and other tools. They have a variety of methods at their disposal, e.g., bat exclusion, to get rid of them and keep them away.
What can you do to help bats?
There is no reason to be alarmed if you spot bats near your home because they offer no risk if left alone. Despite that, it’s usually preferable to consult with animal specialists as soon as possible to determine the best course of action. Call WNY Wildlife & Exclusion today at (716) 203-1166.