It is easy to see how the winged insect slayers have garnered a bit of a fearsome reputation thanks to contributions from vampire culture, the origin story of DC Comics’ most famous caped vigilante, and the species’ preference for the night.
Regardless, the assumption that bats are evil in nature is just fodder for pop culture to draw from. The 18 different species of bat native to Colorado serve much more of a purpose than simply being Halloween decorations.
FOX31 spoke with Joey Livingston from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to discuss the impact bats have on Coloradans and the threat that they face within the state today.
The fungal problem threatening Colorado’s bats
“Bats play a pivotal role in our ecosystem,” Joey Livingston with Colorado Parks and Wildlife told FOX31.
According to Livingston, on July 21, the fungal disease Pseudogymnoascus destructans, also known as White-Nose Syndrome, was found on a bat at Bent’s Old Fort, a historic site near La Junta. The specific species the fungal disease was detected on was a Yuma bat.
The problem with this fungal disease is that it can make infected bats act irregularly, negatively impacting hibernation patterns that may result in their death. In addition to their noses, the fungal disease can also manifest in their wings, ears and tail.
If it infects an entire bat population, it can cause them to leave the warmth of wherever they are holding up for the winter. This can lead to them dying from cold conditions they are trying to avoid during the winter.
Up until now, this has been an issue primarily found in eastern states, having first been discovered in a New York cave in 2006. CPW is monitoring this situation and is tagging some bats. This is to keep tabs on where the bats hibernate over the winter and so researchers can track the disease’s spread.
How you can help Colorado’s ecosystem-supporting bats
“Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night, eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees,” organizers of Bat Week 2022 said.
In addition to the building and installment of bat boxes on your property, maintaining trees is another good way to offer bats shelter and a welcoming habitat. Barns are also another good spot for bats to roost in.
Additionally, it’s important to know that bats don’t have the easiest time initiating flight after hitting the ground. If you see a bat on the ground, it might not be sick and is more likely just stuck.
Livingston said that bats move slowly on the ground and will eventually try to climb up a tree or structure in order to make reinitiating flight easier.
“Bats are important, take care of them,” Livingston concluded.
If you see a bat around your property and want to help them, you can contact CPW or animal control and they should be able to walk you through offering assistance to your little, winged friend.
If you want to learn more about bats, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s bat page for more information.