Mexican Free-tailed Bats
Jonathan Alonzo

The importance of bats during COVID-19

Bat conservation has never been more critical as COVID-19 impacts the lives of people worldwide.

  1. While the exact chain of transmission that resulted in COVID-19 may never be established, we know that the destruction of habitats and exploitation of wildlife increase the risk that new pathogens will jump into the human population. We are healthier and safer when we conserve wildlife and natural habitats. 
  1. While food supplies and economies are strained as a result of the pandemic, bats continue to play a vital role in restoring our natural ecosystems and supporting human economies across the world.
  1. Bats may hold the key to the next breakthrough vaccine or treatment as they have a unique ability to tolerate viruses.

Bat Facts

200+
Bats species are considered threatened by the IUCN
67
plant families rely on bats as their major or exclusive pollinators
$23B
and more, in agricultural and human health savings for the planet every year
3000+
species of plants rely on bats for seed dispersal, including pioneer plant species

An eastern red bat is perched in green foliage
J. Scott Altenbach

Bats & COVID-19

What exactly is the connection between bats and coronavirus? Dr. Winifred Frick, chief scientist of BCl, describes what we know and the importance of bats.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What caused the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Scientists are still investigating the origins of how the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic got into the human population. Regardless of the viral origins, COVID-19 is now a human disease and the risk of getting sick is from another person, not from wildlife. You cannot catch COVID-19 from a bat.

  • Will persecuting bats stop the spread of disease or help save human lives?

    No. Killing, harming, or harassing bats will not end the COVID-19 pandemic, nor will it protect people from infection. Because bats are not carriers of COVID-19 and play no role in disease spread, indiscriminate killing of bats will not save human lives and does nothing to help protect or improve human health.

  • What do we know about bats and coronavirus?

    Bats are natural hosts to coronaviruses, including some that are closely related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused COVID-19. Other wildlife can also be hosts to coronaviruses. Bats with coronaviruses in the wild are not a threat to human health if protected and left undisturbed. Bats and other wildlife do not spread the disease among humans—only humans spread COVID-19 to other humans.

  • Why should we protect bats?

    Bats provide vital ecosystem services such as pest control, pollination, and seed dispersal. Bats are important for global biodiversity and ecosystem health, and many bat species have adapted to living safely alongside us in both urban and rural environments, in our gardens, parks and even roosting around our homes, as beneficial neighbors.

  • What can we do to help?

    Please help by halting the spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and bats. At Bat Conservation International, we work closely with a global network of experts to ensure we provide accurate information as it becomes available. Please check back on our website for further updates or follow us on social media.

 
BCI team members working on habitat protection in St. Catherine, Jamaica. Bat Conservation International

Changes to BCI’s Operations

As we confront the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re making the health and safety of our staff and our supporters our top priority. In line with CDC guidance and state and local orders, we are taking several important changes to our operations.

Changes to BCI’s Operations

  • Public Events

    Bracken Cave Preserve
    Due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 cases throughout South and Central Texas communities, we have canceled the 2020 bat flight season at Bracken Cave Preserve.

    Bat Walks
    All upcoming bat walk events have been postponed or canceled at this time.

  • Staff Operations & Field Work

    We’re taking the necessary steps to protect our staff while minimizing any disruptions to our mission. These precautions include:

      • Adhering to all state orders
      • Adhering to local state and Federal guidance including:
        • Avoiding large gatherings such as events, trainings, and conferences
        • Avoiding/postponing non-essential domestic and international travel
        • Working remotely
 
Peter Neumann

In the News

Deadly Diseases from Wildlife Thrive When Nature is Destroyed, Study Finds
August 5, 2020, The Guardian

Ecology and Economics for Pandemic Prevention
July 24, 2020, Science

How Bats Beat Coronaviruses Could Hold the Key to Tackling COVID-19 Pandemic
July 24, 2020, Newsweek

Bats carry coronaviruses but don’t get sick. Could their secret help us fight COVID-19?
June 27, 2020: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Bats and COVID-19 @19:30
June 26, 2020: BBC

Bats are immune to coronaviruses, so scientists are looking at what we can learn from them
June 23, 2020: Health 24

Why Bats Are Ecological Superheroes
June 20, 2020: Mercola

Bats: The Mystery Behind COVID-19
June 9, 2020: CNN

It’s a Tough Time to be a Fan of Bats  
May 28, 2020: The Wall Street Journal

Full Story: The connection between bats and Coronavirus: Wildlife is not to blame
May 21, 2020: The Invisible Mammal

How Bats Might Have Tamed the Coronavirus
May 10, 2020: The Atlantic

A New Virus Could Yet Spread From Animals To Humans
April 22, 2020: Forbes

Don’t Blame Bats for COVID-19
March 29, 2020: Business Mirror

From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus
March 27, 2020: The New Yorker

Bats are a possible source of the coronavirus — but humans are to blame for the spread of the disease
March 24, 2020: Discover Magazine