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New York Bat Week begins Monday

State encourages preservation and protection of bat species

October 21, 2022 Daniel Cody
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That’s right: it’s bat season, and you can help. Across New York State leading up to Halloween — Oct. 24 through the holiday — the Department of Environmental Conservation is stepping up to encourage the public to prevent the human disturbance of bats.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos advised all New Yorkers to avoid visiting caves or mines during the winter, where bats spend the cold months hibernating for spring and summer.

Human visitation to the sites where bats are hibernating, also referred to as ‘hibernacula,’ disturbs the bats. Since the arrival of White-Nose Disease, a fungus and disease with a collection of symptoms that causes bats’ noses to turn a whitish color, visitation during hibernation is even more threatening.

“Bats play an important role in our environment, helping control insect populations,” Commissioner Seggos said. “With Halloween on people’s minds, DEC is urging outdoor adventurers to protect New York’s bats by avoiding caves and mines altogether. Even the quietest cave visits will disturb bats hunkering down for the winter.”

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Halloween adventurers need not adhere to the  warning about mineshafts in Kings County (there is no mining activity in Brooklyn at all) but there sure are bats. There are nine bat species in New York State – six of which hibernate in the winter – and they can be found in all five boroughs with concentrations in Central Park and Staten Island. 

The endangered Tri-Color Bat. Photo courtesy of DEC

Mid-to-late fall is the mating season for bats, and gestation can take between 40 and 60 days. The bats are born in June and early July, and it normally takes about a month before they can fly.

Two species of bat found in New York State are protected by federal and state law: the Indiana Bat and the Northern Long-Eared Bat. In recent years, scientists have detected a possible resurgence in the population of the Little Brown Bat, once commonly found in New York, yet preservation efforts are still underway as several species haven’t boomeranged back from similar population declines. 

A third species of endangered New York bat, the tri-colored bat, was proposed for endangered species protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 13. Although widespread, tri-colored bats were rare even before they experienced a 98-percent population decline because of white-nose disease. Sadly, there is no current cure for white-nose syndrome.


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