BOSTON (AP) — It’s still not too late to celebrate Bat Week in Massachusetts.
The special week set aside to raise awareness for bat conservation and celebrate the role of bats in nature extends — appropriately enough — through Halloween.
Bats are often misunderstood or even feared, but the flying mammals play a critical role in the environment and many bat species are in decline, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Massachusetts is home to nine species of bats, five of which are considered endangered. One of the greatest threats to bats is White-nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated populations of bats that spend their winters hibernating in caves and mines. Other threats include habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.
Last year, MassWildlife launched a new effort to construct and install bat houses, which can be an important tool in supporting bat survival. MassWildlife has installed 30 bat houses on Wildlife Management Areas and private lands and more will be installed over the next year.
It can take up to two years for bats to move into a bat house, and even then, typically only about 15% of bat houses are ever occupied.
Over the summer of 2021, volunteers made visits to almost all of the bat houses and found that 16% were occupied and another 26% of the locations showed potential for future occupancy.
Anyone wanting to learn more about bat houses — and how to build your own — can visit the MassWildlife website.