Do you have bats roosting in an attic, eve or chimney spaces and want them to roost elsewhere? With bat maternity season starting Friday, April 15, now is the time to act. It is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, but they can be legally excluded from a building or structure by following effective, recommended practices that protect bats and people. Exclusions of bat colonies must be complete by April 15.
“During bat maternity season, bats gather to give birth and raise their young,” said Terry Doonan, who works in species conservation planning for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “The season lasts until the young bats can fly and feed themselves. In Florida, this season occurs from mid-April through mid-August for most bat species.”
Florida is home to 13 resident bat species, including threatened species such as the Florida bonneted bat. Since some bat species may roost in artificial structures, including buildings and houses, guidelines that protect bats have been developed allowing for the legal exclusion of bats outside of the maternity season. Bat exclusions are illegal during the maternity season, from Saturday, April 16 through August 14, in order to prevent young bats that cannot yet fly from being trapped inside structures and dying.
Exclusion guidelines on how to remove bats from buildings can be found at MyFWC.com/Bats. Materials and methods to exclude bats can affect the success of that process. Further details on how to conduct a legal bat exclusion can be found on the Bat Conservation International website, Batcon.org.
Bats are beneficial to people and are an important part of the ecosystem. The state’s native bats help keep insect populations under control, with the average bat eating hundreds of insects a night. In addition to the benefit of keeping mosquitoes at bay for residents enjoying the outdoors, the dollar value of insect suppression by bats to U.S. agriculture has been estimated to be in the billions.
Residents can help bats thrive in Florida by preserving natural roost sites, including trees with cavities, peeling bark and dead palm fronds; by putting up a bat house and by reporting unusual bat behavior to MyFWC.com/BatMortality.
For more information on Florida’s bats, go to MyFWC.com/Bats or contact your closest FWC Regional Office to speak with a regional Wildlife Assistance Biologist for more information.