DNREC seeks volunteer spotters for annual Bat Count

A study published in Science magazine suggests that bats could be one of the most economically valuable groups of wildlife to North American farmers, saving them at least $3.7 billion annually by reducing the amount of pesticides needed. (Delaware Fish & Wildlife Division via Facebook)

A study published in Science magazine suggests that bats could be one of the most economically valuable groups of wildlife to North American farmers, saving them at least $3.7 billion annually by reducing the amount of pesticides needed. (Delaware Fish & Wildlife Division via Facebook)

DOVER — DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is seeking volunteer bat spotters to help in locating and counting the state’s bat colonies for the annual Delaware Bat Count.

A training session for volunteers will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 14 at the Aquatic Resources Education Center, 4876 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna. Weather-permitting, the session will be followed by a visit to a bat maternity colony site for a count demonstration from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Preregistration for the training is requested and can be done by contacting Alex Heinemann at (302) 735-8676 or alexandra.heinemann@state.de.us.

The Delaware Bat Count is a statewide study documenting population trends and bats that breed in the state. Once volunteers adopt a site, they are asked to count the bats at least twice during the summer.

Delaware is home to nine species of bats, several of which have begun their annual move from winter hibernation sites to summer maternity colonies. Female bats return to their colonies pregnant, and then congregate to give birth and raise their pups. In Delaware, these colonies often take up residence in barns, garages, attics, bat boxes and homes.

Bats feed at night on insects, including many pest species such as mosquitoes. Some eat moths and beetles that damage crops. A study published in Science magazine suggests that bats could be one of the most economically valuable groups of wildlife to North American farmers, saving them at least $3.7 billion annually by reducing the amount of pesticides needed.

“They’re providing us with a valuable and free service, so it’s to our benefit to have them around,” said wildlife biologist Holly Niederriter of the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Even though bats play an important role in the ecosystem, they are often unwanted visitors to homes and outbuildings. A bat exclusion from the building or structure may be warranted in such situations.

It is crucial that bat exclusions be completed before May 15 — when  mother bats typically start giving birth — to prevent trapping flightless young inside a building and permanently separating the mothers from their pups, which cannot survive on their own.

For a list of permitted wildlife control operators who can conduct bat exclusions, visit https://apps.dnrec.state.de.us/NuisanceWildlife/Search.aspx. To review the “Best Management Practices” for excluding bats, go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/bats/ and check out the “Bats In Buildings” section.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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