Featured Creature: The Bat
Bats make up almost one-fifth of all mammal species worldwide. Like us, they give
birth to live young. Bats are relatively long-lived mammals and can survive20 to 30 years in thewild.
Of the 17 bat species that occur in North Carolina, seven species are listed as either endangered,
threatened or of special concern. Bats are primarily nocturnal, though they
also forage in the early evening and early morning hours. Although most bats have relatively
good eyesight, they prefer to use “echolocation”to navigate and locate prey. Their maneuverability
is phenomenal—bats can avoid objects as small as a string in total darkness.
Many bats will mate in either the spring or fall and usually produce one pup per year.
Many species of bats will form maternity colonies in the summer to raise their young
while others prefer to roost solitarily.Some bat species migrate south for the
winter and others find local hibernation areas,called “hibernacula,” for the winter. Caves or
mines are preferred hibernacula, though they have also been found in buildings and under
bridges and will usually return to the samesites every year.
THE BENEFITS OF BATS
Bats are integral to ecosystems worldwide. Tropical bats disperse large amounts of seed
and pollen, which aids in plant reproduction and forest regrowth. Northern bat species can
have a major impact on controlling insect populations.A nursing female bat may consume
almost her entire body weight in insects in one night. Just imagine how many insects an entire
colony of bats would consume. Other countries collect bat guano for fertilizer and harvest bats
for food and medical purposes. Despite misconceptions, rabies is not very
common in bats. In2004, the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services documented a
total of581 positive cases of rabies in North Carolina. Of those 581 animals, 338 were raccoons,
113were skunks, 66 were foxes, 28 were bats, 22 were cats, 7 were dogs, 4 were cows,
1was a coyote, 1 was a bobcat, and 1 was equine. Therefore, you are far more likely to encounter
a rabid raccoon, skunk, or fox in North Carolina than a rabid bat. It is, however, important
to remember that bats can become infected and to use caution when you encounter one.
MONITORING BAT POPULATIONS
Some bat populations have been declining all over the United States. Pesticides, persecution
and human disturbance of hibernacula and maternity colonies may have contributed to
the decline of bat populations. To determine bat distribution and hibernation sites in North
Carolina, the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducts monitoring studies in various
areas across the state. Through a variety of methods—such as mist netting, trapping,
banding and radio telemetry—Commission biologists, in cooperation with the U. S. Forest
Service, have surveyed and banded hundreds
Bats make sounds through their mouth and nose.
When the sound hits an object an echo comes
back. The bat can identify an object by the sound of
the echo. They can even tell the size, shape and
texture of a tiny insect from its echo.
Bats use their tiny claws to cling to vertical surfaces and even hang
upside down.north carolina wildlife resources commission fact sheet, 2005
2 bat north carolina wildlife resources commission of bats in North Carolina. By collecting age,
weight and gender information for each bat,Commission biologists can track species distribution
and locate hibernation areas to aid indeveloping effective management plans.
PROTECTING BAT HABITAT
In2002 the Commission purchased the mineral rights to and acquired a donated conservation
easement at Cranberry Iron Mine in Avery County to protect the hibernating population
of Virginia big-eared bats, eastern pipistrelle bats, little brown bats, big brown bats
and northern long-eared bats. If disturbed during hibernation, bats can expend enough
stored energy to prevent them from surviving until spring, which may cause them to die of
starvation. The Commission and U. S. Forest Service constructed steel gates at the mine
entrances, which prevent people from entering the mine and disturbing the bats, but still
allow for free bat movement. To further protect bat habitat the Commission has also been
working along side The Nature Conservancy in efforts to acquire land with critical habitats.
EDUCATING THE PUBLIC
Education is another bat conservation tool in North Carolina. Introducing people to bats
and their benefits is one way to sustain the bat populations in our state. Publications detailing
how North Carolina citizens can help increase the bat populations, such as installing
bat boxes or avoiding hibernation colonies, are available to the public. By educating the public,
monitoring populations and protecting hibernaculums and maternity colonies, we can
provide appropriate management to sustain bat populations in North Carolina.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Install bat boxes around your home.
2. Plant native plants that attract helpful insects to provide food for bats.
3. Limit the use of insecticides and herbicides whenever possible.
4. Avoid hibernation areas and maternity colonies.
5. Join a conservation organization to remain updated on bat conservation efforts.
6. Educate yourself and others regarding the importance of bats and why they are beneficial.
7. Donate to the N. C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund.
Spring has sprung and Wildlife have had young.............
Soon phones will be ringing with folks calling in about what to do with “orphaned” wildlife.
The best message:
“Leave it alone for 24 hours to allow the adult female to return.
Do not pick it up; do not try to feed it; leave it where it was found.”
It is best to leave wildlife aloneCapturing and handling young animals can stress them, sometimes fatally. Young animals, if alone, are not necessarily abandoned. Many animals do not
stay with their young and only return to feed them.Wildlife can transmit diseases, such as rabies. It is illegal to keep wildlife without a permit.
Fawns:Does hide their fawns while they feed. Although the fawn is alone,
the doe will return several times a day to nurse it, staying only a few
If you are concerned about a fawn, leave the area and return the next day.
Does are vary cautious and will not return to the fawn if they sense danger,
such as a person near-by.
If a fawn is in the exact location when you check on it the following day and
bleating loudly, or if a fawn is lying beside a dead doe, do not take the fawn
into your possession. To find a local permitted fawn rehabilitator, contact
the NCWRC at (919) 707-0050 or go to our website at: www.ncwildlife.org/injuredwildlife.aspxBirds and Rabbits:
If the nest is close by, a young bird (nestling or fledgling) or rabbit can be put
back in the nest. The adult may return to care for it. It is a myth that adults
will abandon young that have been touched by humans. Do not try to
rehabilitate the rabbit or birds on your own, as this is not only illegal, but may
cause injury to the animal.
Other wildlifeFor other species, if no adult returns or the adult female has been found dead, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at:
Due to rabies concerns the newborn, young and adult of the following
species cannot be rehabilitated: coyote, skunk, fox, raccoon, and bat.
NC Wildlife Resources is just a click away
Furbearing wildlife causingextensive property damage during the trapping season?
Contact a licensed trapper: www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/ContacaLicensedTrapper.aspx& search by county and species.
Furbearing animals are certain wildlife species that can be trapped during the regulated trapping season.
For information onspecies you can trap & trapping season dates go to www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/
Wildlife causing extensive property damage outside the hunting and trapping season?
Contact a Wildlife Damage Control Agent: www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/WildlifeDamageControlAgent.aspx
For tips on reducing conflicts with wildlife go to: www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/HaveaProblem.aspx
Found an injured or orphaned wild animal? For information and licensed rehabilitator contacts go to:
Problems with araptor, waterfowl or other bird species? All birds are federally protected. Call USDA Wildlife
Services at 866-487-3297, ext. 225.
Want to learn more about a particular wild animal species? www.ncwildlife.org/Conserving?\/Species.aspx
What is the Wildlife Damage Control Agent (WDCA) Program?
The WDCA program allows trained and certified individuals to issue wildlife depredation
permits to North Carolina residents having wildlife damage problems.
Depredation permits are needed to hunt or trap and lethally remove wildlife outside
of the season.
The NCWRC offers a WDCA workshop that provides you with the rules and
regulations that govern the WDCA program, information on euthanasia, safe
handling of wildlife, and a variety of other information that will be useful for WDCA’s. Agents must pass a closed book
Certification examination and a criminal background check prior to being certified. Once you have received your certification
in the mail you may begin operating in a WDCA capacity.
For additional information go to:www.ncwildlife.org/ProblemWildlifeDamageControl/WDCAProgramWorkshop.aspxor call 919-707-0061
Attending a two-day workshop is a certification requirement.
Remaining 2014 workshops: June 11-12 (full)
October 8-9 (open)