COLUMBUS – Bats are important to both Ohio’s economy and ecosystems, which is why Gov. Mike DeWine proclaimed Oct. 24-31 as Bat Week to highlight the need for bat conservation.
“Bats contribute substantially to our economy by protecting our forests and agriculture from crop-damaging insects and pests,” said Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “It is critical that we continue efforts to promote the health of bat populations here in Ohio and across the nation.”
Bat populations in Ohio are declining because of a combination of threats from disease, land development, and contamination from pesticides. Studies have shown that the loss of bats could cost the nation’s agricultural industry more than $3.7 billion per year because of the pest-control benefits they provide. With almost 14 million acres of agricultural land in Ohio, bats have an important role in the state.
ODNR is encouraging Ohioans to help celebrate Bat Week by doing something positive for these important winged mammals. People can help by building artificial bat roosts, planting native vegetation to attract insect prey for bats, or educating people on how important bats are.
“Bats are amazing creatures that are vital to the health of our natural world and economy,” said ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “The recent decline of many species of bat populations due to White-nose Syndrome and other factors highlight the need for public and private partnerships to work together to restore bat populations.”
At least 10 species of bats are commonly found in Ohio. Two species, Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats, are federally listed. The remaining species are protected under state law.
Bat Week is an international, annual celebration designed to raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. The Bat Week proclamation was backed by the Ohio Bat Working group and the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. For more information and ideas on how to get involved in bat conservation, visit batweek.org.
Submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.