June 28 - July 4
Get outside and discover nature as bats begin to bear their young this week. One way you can discover nature is by helping to protect the Indiana bat.
The nocturnal habits of bats, their affinity for eerie places like caves, and silent, darting flight have made them the subjects of folklore and superstition. They’re the only mammals capable of true flight, and they’re active at a time when most people prefer to be indoors.
The Indiana bat is known as the "social bat". It summers along streams and rivers in north Missouri and hibernates through the winter in caves and abandoned mines in the Ozarks. These bats are threatened by habitat loss and human disturbance at their hibernating sites and are listed as ENDANGERED by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As you enjoy the Missouri outdoors, keep in mind what you can do to help protect these bats.
Avoid disturbing hibernating bats by avoiding caves known to have hibernating bats, and respect signs and gates constructed to notify people of resident bats. If you have a cave on your property, maintain some forested land around the cave entrance. When possible, leave dead trees standing and only remove trees when Indiana bats are not likely to be present (typically from September 1st to April 1st). Indiana bats tend to favor species of oak and hickory for roosting but may also use cottonwood and elm trees. Also, reduce the use of pesticides near summer foraging areas as these bats consume large quantities of insects during the summer and are at risk to exposure to pesticides.
To keep track of current natural events like when bats will bear their young, you can get your own natural events calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.