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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release
For Immediate Release: May 17, 2012
Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
Megan Seymour 614-416-8993 ext. 16
Celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites everyone to celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012, by learning more about endangered species in Ohio, getting outside and experiencing nature, and taking action to protect native plants and animals in your area.
“Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our successes and strengthen our partnership with the American public to conserve our shared natural resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By taking action to help our threatened and endangered plants and animals, we can ensure a healthy future for our country and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.”
Bats all over the world are critically important for insect control, pollination, seed dispersal and biodiversity. To celebrate bats and spread the word about their importance, a coalition of organizations worldwide has designated 2011-2012 the “Year of the Bat.” Ohio is home to 11 species of bats, including the Indiana bat, an endangered species. Indiana bats are sparsely distributed across most of Ohio. Most people know that bats sleep during the day and are active at night, but some widely held beliefs about bats, including the Indiana bat, are not true.
Did you know?
- Bats have excellent vision! They just don’t rely heavily on it to get around since they are typically active at night.
- All Ohio bats depend on trees for habitat during the summer. Indiana bats roost under the peeling bark of shagbark hickory trees or dead trees whose bark is sloughing off.
- Only some bats, including Indiana bats, hibernate in caves during the winter. Other bats migrate from Ohio to warmer climates in the winter, much like birds do.
- Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.
- Bats use echolocation to navigate and find food. Each kind of bat has facial features shaped to help it echolocate most efficiently. For example, bats such as the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat have extremely large ears, while other bats, such as the California leaf-nosed bat, have a fleshy growth on their nose that aids in echolocation.
- Bats’ wings are composed of the same bones as a human hand.
- All bats in Ohio eat only insects. Each bat can eat hundreds of insects per hour. Bats in other places may eat fruit, fish and even frogs. Vampire bats do exist, but not as far north as the U.S. Their range is restricted to Mexico and Central and South America.
- Unlike other small mammals, bats are long-lived, and most have only one offspring, or “pup” per year.
- Bats will return to the same trees and same caves each year, so long as those areas continue to be suitable.
Bats, including the Indiana bat, face many threats in Ohio. Historically, disturbance of caves where bats hibernate was a significant threat to bat colonies. To remedy this threat, many caves managers have installed “bat-friendly” gates that allow bats to come and go, but keep people out. Forested habitat loss has also been a significant threat to Indiana bats, which rely on mature forests for summer habitat. Historically Ohio was nearly covered with forests, but conversion to agriculture and harvest for timber drastically reduced forest cover since the time of European settlement. Forest cover in Ohio has been expanding in recent decades, and better forest management practices are helping to ensure that bat habitat is a permanent feature on Ohio’s landscape.
Both common and rare cave bats are susceptible to white-nose syndrome. This disease of hibernating bats is caused by a fungus new to science that causes bats to wake during hibernation, leading to dehydration, starvation, exposure and ultimately the death of millions of bats since its discovery in 2007. Little brown bats, one of Ohio’s most common species, are especially susceptible to death from white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome was first discovered in caves in New York, but has spread rapidly across the eastern U.S. and has been confirmed in six Ohio counties. Teams of federal, state, and academic researchers are diligently searching for ways to address the disease, but little headway has been made so far.
Why not take a trip to an important bat habitat area to celebrate Endangered Species Day?
- Northeast OH: Liberty Park, Summit County—Home to forests, stream corridors, and sandstone ledges—excellent year-round bat habitat.
- Central OH: Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Franklin and Madison Counties—Hike along the forested areas adjacent to Big or Little Darby Creek to see Indiana bats’ preferred summer habitat.
- Southeast OH: Wayne National Forest—Follow a trail through Ohio’s only national forest and observe woods that support summering Indiana bats.
- Southwest OH: Fernald Preserve, Harrison, OH—formerly a uranium processing facility, the site was recently remediated and is now a wildlife haven open to the public. Indiana bat habitat abounds, as do rare birds and amphibians.
- Northwest OH: Goll Woods State Nature Preserve, Fulton County—though Indiana bats have not been documented here, this area features one of the oldest oak forest remnants in northwest Ohio and provides excellent bat habitat.
What can you do at home to protect Indiana bats and other Ohio bats?
- Plant or maintain native Ohio trees in your yard and especially along rivers and streams, no matter how small. Native forests and wooded stream corridors provide homes and food for all of Ohio’s bats and a host of other wildlife. Leave dead trees standing. Bats will rest during the day under the peeling bark of dead trees, or in tree cavities or holes. Dead trees also provide homes and food sources for many other kinds of wildlife.
- If you find a bat in your home, prop open an exterior door or window near where the bat is, and close all interior doors. The bat will usually fly out on its own. If you suspect you have many bats using your attic or chimney, contact a professional wildlife removal specialist for assistance.
- Avoid and minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides in your yard and especially near wet areas. Eliminating certain plants and animals from your yard can have ripple effects throughout the food chain. Pesticides that kill bugs can eliminate food sources for bats, birds and other wildlife.
Endangered Species Day was established by Congress to promote the importance of protecting endangered species and share actions that people can take to help protect rare plants, animals, and their habitats. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. More than 1,300 species of plants and animals are currently listed as either threatened or endangered in the United States, and 23 are currently listed in Ohio.
For more info on Indiana bats:
For more info on Liberty Metropark: http://www.summitmetroparks.org/ParksAndTrails/LibertyPark.aspx
For more info on Wayne National Forest:
For more info on activities and events at Battelle Darby Creek Metropark: http://www.metroparks.net/ParksBattelleDarbyCreek.aspx
For more info on Fernald Preserve:
For more info on Goll Woods State Nature Preserve: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/location/dnap/goll_woods/tabid/942/Default.aspx
For more info on bats and the Year of the Bat:
For more info on Endangered Species Day:
Note to editors: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbus Ohio Ecological Services Field Office will be celebrating Endangered Species Day by providing a series of articles that highlight some of Ohio’s rarest plants and animals and describe how the public can experience and protect these unique species.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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