Read the full story from the USGS.
Each year on Halloween, as children dress up and go door to door looking for treats and excitement, bats—the very animal we associate with the celebration—are in serious trouble and we need to “treat” them with the respect they deserve.
Iconic Halloween animals that reinforce the spookiness of the holiday, bats have long suffered a bad reputation. They’ve been accused of harboring unkind spirits, making nests in piles of ratty hair, and are, of course, often associated with witches, warlocks, and Halloween. Few other mammals seem to “spook” us with so many misunderstandings.
But bats, because of their incredible echolocation abilities, rarely fly into or touch people. Far from being merely an unsavory nuisance, they serve amazing and essential ecological roles in our country.
Unfortunately for insect-eating bats, white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fatal fungal growth in the wings and muzzles of hibernating bats, has killed over 5 million bats since 2006, and may well lead to the extinction of certain bat species. In addition, bats are susceptible to being killed or injured by wind turbines.