As the ghosts, goblins, and vampires come out of the shadows and descend upon us tonight, I thought it appropriate to bring attention to the plight of a Halloween mascot, the Brown Bat, whose populations in recent years have been decimated due to a mysterious illness known as the White Nose Syndrome. First discovered in 2007, it’s believed to have killed over 6 million bats in the U.S. alone. Ounce for ounce, these little critters are one of the most hard-working mammals, working overtime as pollinators, seed dispersers, and pest control. Their total economic importance is inestimable, but within the realm of agriculture, the loss of bats could cost upward of $4 billion annually.
So what can you and your children do to help save the bats. Here are some small steps and activities that will help:
– Support organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, who are helping to save their natural habitat or providing artificial bat caves.
– Support the development of a bat conservation bank near you.
– Adopt a bat (money goes towards habitat conservation and education outreach).
– Spend time with the kids, building and erecting a bat house around your house (perfect mosquito control)
– If you live around Palm Trees, avoid altogether or excessive trimming of branches, which provide habitat.
– Install critter escape ramps in your pool. Millions of frogs, chipmunks, bats, and other critters drown in pools each year.
So, if you see any bats tonight, real or otherwise, keep in mind the plight of these critters. And safe trick-er-treating.