Did you know the countdown for Halloween coincides with Bat Week? An annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature, Bat Week is in flight Oct. 24—31, 2018. It’s organized by representatives from conservation groups and government agencies across the U.S. and Canada to raise awareness of the importance of bats to the environment and encourage people to take action to support them.
Why We Need Bats
Bats make up nearly 20% of the mammals on earth, and they live everywhere except the most extreme desert and polar areas. Whether we see bats often or not, they are closer than you may think and hard at work:
- Controlling insects
- Pollinating flowers
- Spreading seeds for plants and trees
In fact, we have bats to thank for critical interactions in the growth of some favorite food and drink, including figs, chocolate, and even tequila.How Bats Are Under Attack
Nearly a quarter of bat species worldwide are considered endangered or vulnerable. Main causes are the disruption of forest habitats, over-harvesting, climate change, and disease. White-Nose Syndrome alone has killed more than six million bats in just eight years in the U.S. and Canada.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is one organization that is recognizing Bat Week. SFI provides supply chain assurances, delivers conservation leadership, and supports environmental education and community engagement. More than 300 million acres (120 million hectares) of forestland in the U.S. and Canada are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard. This lands certified to SFI standards protect habitat and ensure conservation of wildlife, including bats.
SFI has also awarded more than $3.9 million in Conservation and Community Partnerships grants. Several grants have supported bats specifically. For example, The Nature Conservancy of Canada created an inventory of bat populations in southern British Columbia, including the locations of their habitats and habitat health.
What You Can Do
You may be surprised by some of these surprisingly simple ways you can let bats know you have their back:
- Spread the word about Bat Week, especially on social media
- Incorporate a little bat education into your spooky celebration
- Avoid creating too much light pollution around your home and yard that disrupts bats’ natural movements
- Plant a garden or add a compost pile to attract bat activity
- Install a water feature that bats can use (as well as birds)—and keep it clean and mosquito free
- Look for opportunities to join an invasive plant pull or stream cleanup in your community
Interested in ways to get even more involved? Visit http://batweek.org for endless ideas, from organizing bat walks to joining “letter-writing” campaigns to building bat boxes as habitat. To learn more about sustainable forestry and why it’s essential to bats and other wildlife, visit http://www.sfiprogram.org/.