New Yorkers encouraged to protect state bat populations during ‘Bat Week’

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NEW YORK (WWTI) — New Yorkers are being encouraged to help protect local bat populations throughout the week.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is currently observing “Bat Week,” which is a statewide campaign focused on raising awareness in the important roles bats play.

New Yorkers are encouraged to be mindful of the spread of the disease, white-nose-syndrome, which ha killed more than 90% of New York State bats. According to the DEC, this can be stopped through avoiding visiting caves and mines as they serve as seasonal homes for hibernating bats.

“Exploring caves can be a fun adventure, but it can lead to disaster for New York’s bat populations,” stated DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Hibernating bats are highly susceptible to even the quietest cave visits. If disturbed, bats will temporarily increase their metabolism and expend significantly more energy than normal, making them more susceptible to disease. During hibernation months, it’s better and safer for visitors to stay out of caves altogether, but if you do come across hibernating bats in a cave, I urge you to leave quickly and quietly.”

The DEC stated that under federal and state endangered species law, two bat species are protected. This includes The Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. The northern long-eared bat is one of the top species affected by white-nose syndrome.

The internationally recognized “Bat Week” is set to be observed through October 31, 2020, as typical hibernation periods for bats begin early October and last through the end of April.

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