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Understanding Bats

Photos of Hoary bat - Little brown bat - Silver haired bat

Bats are an important part of the Saskatchewan ecosystem and economy. They are protected wildlife under Saskatchewan's The Wildlife Act. As such, bats, and their place of habitation, are protected from interference, harassment, and harm.

Every year millions of dollars are spent on pest control on Saskatchewan's agricultural crops. Research in the U.S. estimated that the loss of bats in North America could cost more than $3.7 billion/year.

Saskatchewan bats consume a variety of species of moths and beetles, many of which are considered crop and forest pests. Diamond back moths, various cutworm moths, and the alfalfa looper are all nocturnal or crepuscular flyers whose larval forms damage important resources such as canola, wheat, barley, and mustard. These insects are all on the menu for our furry winged friends. Forest pests like the spruce bud worm and emerald ash borer also make up part of bat diets in habitats like the Cypress Hills and Boreal regions.

In urban settings, bats are also a much-appreciated pest control measure. Research has found that bats in urban landscapes consume these same insects in the city that are considered crop and forest pests, in addition to yard pests like leafhoppers and mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, bats in North America are in decline. Some of the key threats include: decreased prey availability from insect population declines and mismatches in timing of prey emergence linked to climate change, fatalities at wind turbines, habitat loss, and white-nose syndrome (a disease that affects only bats).

It has been estimated that over 50 per cent of bat species in North America are at risk of severe population decline.

Historically bats have been given a bit of a bad rap. They tend to be associated with being spooky and disease. While it is true that bats can carry rabies, cases in Canada have historically been low. The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative suggests treating bats like all wildlife - never touch! See their advice on Bats and Rabies.

It’s up to us humans to help bats . . . but we also know some of us would rather let them be far, far away from our own homes.

Learn how to bat-proof your home.

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