As a homeowner, you may find yourself unwittingly hosting a colony of bats in your walls or attic. The next logical question should be how do I humanely get rid of these little guys? Can I simply kill a bat if it flies into my living space?
The answer to that question is an unequivocal NO. Bats in Canada are an endangered species and as such are protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
Below we will touch on the specifics of why bats are protected and how best to deal with the presence of bats in your home.
Bats - A Protected Species
When it comes to bat removal in Ontario, the law is very clear. It is illegal to kill a bat, even if it flies into your home. The Fish and Wildlife act lists several species of bats that are protected. You can find the table below:
However, in Ontario, the vast majority of interactions with bats in private homes involve the big brown bats. These are by far the most common species encountered. Having said that, it's safe to assume that any bat you encounter in Ontario is protected. So no need to identify the species before determining a proper course of action. In every possible instance, the right call to make is to leave the animal alone and contact a humane wildlife removal professional.
Although at times they are dismissed as a nuisance, bats are an integral part of our local ecosystem. From pollination to insect population control, bats serve an important function in our neighborhoods.
The reason they have found themselves on the protected species list is due to the recent prevalence of something called white-nose syndrome. WNS appears as a visible white fungal growth on the muzzle, ears and wings of hibernating bats. Since 20017/08, it is estimated that over 7 million insect-eating bats have died as a result of this fungus in Canada and the U.S.
The drastic decrease in bat population over the past decade is expected to have substantial effects on the environment and agriculture. Bats eat insects that damage crops and spread disease. Consumption of insects by bats saves farmers billions of dollars in pest control services annually. The additional costs associated with keeping their crops healthy will eventually be passed onto us, the consumer. This, in turn, will affect other aspects of our lives.
Much, much more than we could have initially imagined is dependant on the bat population in Ontario remaining healthy. The health of our various bat species has far-reaching implications. They really are amazing creatures.
The bulk of the reported cases are found in the Central and Northern portions of the Eastern Seaboard. In all, 32 states and 7 provinces have confirmed cases of WNS, with cases turning up as far south as Texas last year.
Below we have a map illustrating all known cases in Canada and the U.S. You will see that Southern Ontario falls right into the affected regions, so it is no surprise Ontario has been greatly affected by this fungus.
This fungus and its impact on our local bat population can have a devastating impact if the progression is not halted. If you come across a bat in your house, please do not interfere with it. They are so much more than just annoying pests.
What to Do If You Have Bats In Your Home
If you come home and find a bat flying around your living room, it may seem like a simple solution to try and swat it out of the air and dispose of it. There are two problems with this approach:
- As discussed above, bats are protected and it is illegal to harm or kill them, with infractions levying fines potentially hefty enough to warrant a second mortgage on your home.
- You most likely have a colony in your attic, therefore harming one bat is not only cruel, but it gets you no closer to resolving your wildlife issue.
Regardless of timing, cost or any other factor. If you find a bat in your living space or see evidence around the building of bat entries; please contact a local, humane wildlife removal outfit.
It's easy to lump bats in with other common offenders such as mice, rat, and squirrels. But unlike many other types of urban pests, bats are an essential and key part of our local ecosystem. Bat removal should only be completed by trained professionals.