We’re Batty About Bats!

It’s almost Halloween … which means it’s time to go batty for bats!

In this season of ghosts, goblins, witches and ghouls, there is certainly nothing to fear from bats. Bats play an important role in nature as they help to control pests and are essential pollinators to keep our forests healthy. Without bats, there would be more bugs in your backyard and fewer flowers blooming.

Bats live on every continent except Antarctica. Through our Wildlife Without Borders – Mexico Program, we are protecting bats.  We are working with our partner organization Chiapas based Tierra Verde Naturaleza y Cultura to increase awareness and appreciation for bats like the local Western Long-Tongued and the Proboscis bat. 

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Bats hang from the rafters of a local home. (Amanda Gonzales/USFWS)

Indigenous park rangers are being trained to conserve and identify bats and are sharing this knowledge with local communities.  An environmental education project called The Bats of my Community was developed which educated the communities of Ceniceros and Salto de Agua, as well as local government personnel, community members and children on bat conservation.

This project has identified the variety and number of refuges used by bats in the area and captured local knowledge and beliefs towards bats. Seventeen bat species have been identified. The project also established the Bat Conservation and Protection Network which includes two elementary school clubs and an adult group focused on bat conservation and protection.

We are currently supporting bat-themed conservation, observation and monitoring activities for children and youth members of the “Bat Conservation Club.”  We are also working to measure the impact of previous environmental education activities to identify best practices and areas for improvement.

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Local school children participate in a bat conservation awareness project. (Tierra Verde/Naturaleza y Cultura, A.C.)

Most importantly, thanks to the work carried out by our partner in Mexico, community awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting bats has increased, and previous misconceptions about bats have been corrected. Bats are now accepted and respected within the community.  They are valued for their important ecological role that benefits humans in multiple ways including the dispersion of seeds, pollination of economically important plants, and natural pest control.

So in this time of fright, remember there is nothing to fear from the flying bats of the night!

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