Bat counters wanted in Delaware

The Delaware Bat Count aims to evaluate the health of the state’s bat population and the role they play in the environment.

There are eight species of bats that call Delaware home and several species have already emerged from their winter hibernation sites to join their summer colonies.  

In Delaware, those colonies commonly set up shop in barns, garages, attics and homes.  And while that may cause headaches for homeowners and businesses, they also play a pivotal role in the ecosystem.  “They’re providing us with a valuable and free service, so it’s to our benefit to have them around,” said wildlife biologist Holly Niederriter.  

A study published in Science magazine found bats are one of the most “economically-valuable” groups of wildlife for North American farmers.  The bat population acts as pest control for farmers, eating mosquitoes, as well as moths and beetles, that damage crops.  The study estimates that bats save farmers at least $3.7 million a year by reducing the amount of pesticides needed.

If bats roost in an undesirable location on your property, state environmental leaders say you can contact a permitted nuisance wildlife control operator who can remove them and keep them from returning.  It’s important to get that work done before May 15, when female bats typically settle in their colony sites and begin giving birth.  If you wait, the young, flightless bat pups could get trapped inside and be permanently separated from their mothers, without whom they cannot survive.

You can find a list of permitted nuisance wildlife control operators on the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s website.  

The state is also looking to identify any new bat colonies while they study the state’s bat population and breeding activity.  If you want to report a bat colony or volunteer as a bat spotter, you can contact DNREC’s Holly Niederriter or Sarah Brownlee-Bouboulis at 302-735-8674 or at sarah.brownlee@state.de.us.

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