Bat Conservation International is uniquely positioned to help prevent the extinction of any bat species in the US and Canada. As a US-based organization, we work with a diverse group of partners to protect bats that are globally imperiled, as well as bats that are threatened or endangered at the state and federal level.
We have been working to protect and conserve bats in this region of the world since our inception. North American bats face many challenges. White-nose Syndrome (WNS) has killed at least 6 million hibernating bats since its arrival in New York in 2006. Wind energy continues to develop as an alternative energy source. Researchers estimate that as many as 1.7 million bats were killed in the US and Canada prior to 2011. Additionally, as many as 1.3 million fatalities may have occurred in 2012 alone, and that migratory species are impacted most heavily. Climate change is altering weather patterns and landscapes, reducing the availability of water resources for bats, especially in the arid Southwest. Habitat alteration and fragmentation can threaten roosting and foraging sites for some species. And human disturbance continues to be a problem for bats at unprotected caves and mines.
In the US, 8 species or subspecies of bats are listed as Endangered (see below). In Canada, a single bat, the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) is listed as Threatened under the Species At Risk Act.
- Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus)
- Gray bat (Myotis grisescens)
- Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)
- Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)
- Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae)
- Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis)
- Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens)
- Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus)
Bats, as the primary predators of night-flying insects, play a crucial ecological role. But they have a vital economic role, too. Research has shown that bats provide between a $3.7 and $52 billion ecosystem service benefit to US farmers and ranchers, by reducing the costs of pesticides. If we continue to lose bats from WNS, wind facility fatalities, and other causes, there will be an economic impact.
BCI has a successful track record of protecting bats in this region. We have excellent working relationships with key federal agencies, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre and others. Additionally, we are partnered with various state wildlife agencies, universities and other non-governmental entities to identify and implement meaningful, on-the-ground conservation actions. We work with key legislators and decision-makers to develop conservation policies at the national level.
We are currently working in many arenas to protect North America’s bats. White-nose Syndrome is decimating North American bats, and BCI is working to stop the spread of this disease and prevent the endangerment and potential extinction of impacted species. Through our WNS Research Grants program, we support critical research that identifies tools to control the fungus that causes the disease. WNS has decimated some populations of the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), which has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. We are working with university, industry and state wildlife partners to provide the US Fish and Wildlife Service with the data they need to protect this dwindling species.
Although not impacted by WNS, the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) is the most recent bat listed under the Endangered Species Act. BCI is working with several key partners in Florida to conduct critical research to identify the habitat needs and distribution of this poorly understood creature.
BCI also believes in celebrating conservation success. The lesser long-nosed bat, Leptonycteris yerbabuenae, has met many of the criteria needed to down-list it from “endangered” to “threatened.” BCI is working with state and federal agencies to permanently protect known roosting sites and, hopefully, remove this species from the Endangered Species list.
Video courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.