They help our planet!

If we didn't have bats, our planet would be very different. Bats have many important jobs that we need and depend on them to do.

One of the jobs (that Nova Scotians would appreciate - especially those living in rural areas) is that bats keep the insect population in check. If we didn't have bats, the insects would literally eat all plants and foliage. As well, we would have larger number of insects to pester us when we are trying to enjoy the outside.

Another important job bats have is to help pollinate plants. Some crops such as bananas and peaches, heavily depend on bats. If we didn't have bats, you wouldn't be able to enjoy a delicious banana split. Thank you bats!

Bats also disperse seeds. BCI reports that seeds dropped by bats, in rain-forests that have been clear-cut, can account for up to 95% of new growth. One more reason to love, protect and appreciate bats.

So... why are they threatened?

Bats populations worldwide are declining. The main cause? Us.

Habitat:
Bats needs forests and humans are cutting down the forests at an alarming rate. Many bats live in these forests. They hunt in these forests. If they have no place to live and hunt... they die. This is the biggest reason for the worldwide decline of bats.

Bat also live in caves and old-mines which being destroyed by vandalism and tourism.

In other cases, bats are roused from hibernation by people collecting their droppings (which are used as fertilizer). Once roused the bats can die because they will use up the reserves they needed to survive the winter.

Fear, Myth and Hunting:
Much is misunderstood about bats and they are feared. Many bats die for no reason because of this fear and misconception. In some countries bats are hunted for their meat to be eaten or used in medicines - they are no regulations in place and bats are hunted until gone.

Wind Turbines:
Hundred of thousands of bats die each year by colliding with wind turbines in North America. BCI is working with scientists to come up with some strategies to keep bats from colliding with the turbines.

White Nose Sydrome (WNS):
We started talking about WNS in our classroom last year. That discussion with our teacher, got a small group of us thinking that we want to do more, to help, to make a little difference.

WNS has been found to kill bats in Eurasia and North America. Many species of bats are affected, but the little brown bat - the kind that used to be plentiful here in Nova Scotia, is in the most trouble. BCI predicts that by 2030 only 1% of the the little brown bat population will be left.

99% of the little brown bats gone ... by 2030. Bat populations are slow to grow as a mom bat only has one baby per year. So, if scientists are able to find a cure (which they haven't yet, but there is hope) the little brown bat population will be very slow to recover... if ever.

It is expected that within a few years the tri-colored bat and the northern long-eared bat will be listed as threatened because of decline due to WNS (if things continue as they have been).

There are things we can do to help the few remaining brown bats in Nova Scotia (we talk about those here) but the most helpful thing we can do is donate to reputable organizations (like http://www.batcon.org) to give them the funding they need to hire scientists, conduct studies and find a way to stop WNS!