White-nose Syndrome in Bats
White-nose syndrome (WNS) in the northeastern United States has caused unprecedented mortality of six species of cave bats, which are bats that hibernate in caves and mines in the winter months. The disease was first documented in New York State during the winter of 2006, and quickly spread to Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
WNS is associated with a newly identified fungus that invades the skin and breaks down the tissue in hibernating bats. In Vermont, populations of cave bats have declined dramatically since the disease was first observed in the state. In particular, populations of Vermont’s two most common bat species – the little brown bat and the northern long-eared bat (northern myotis) – have declined over 90% in three years. Read more on WNS »
Vermont’s Endangered Bats
Vermont is home to nine bat species. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is listing the little brown bat and northern long-eared bat as endangered due to the high mortality caused by WNS. Current research indicates both species populations have been reduced by 90% in the past three years, and the once very common little brown bat may be extirpated within 15 years. Other bat species currently on the Vermont endangered species list include the state-threatened small-footed bat and the state and federally endangered Indiana bat.
Vermont's House Bats
Vermont’s little brown bat and the big brown bat commonly live in buildings and are often referred to as “house bats.” Little brown and big brown bats are common visitors to residences from mid-April to October, although the big brown bat may overwinter in attics.
During the summer months, female little brown and big brown bats form colonies, sometimes in large numbers, in attics, sheds or under shingles. This is where they give birth and raise their young. Males also frequent buildings, either alone or in small groups.
Bats in Your House
Human-bat conflicts were once a common occurrence in Vermont during the summer months, especially late July and early August when young bats, called pups, first begin flying. Now that WNS has devastated Vermont’s bat populations, conflicts are much less common but still can occur.
Here are some helpful resources to learn how to successfully remove bats from your house without causing harm to the bats, as well as how to provide an alternative roositng site.