I have to tell you, I'm not a fan of bats. I know, Dracula isn't really hanging out anywhere around here and that's a product over my over active child imagination that won't let go. So, when the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources came out with ways we can coexist with bats, my first reaction was why?

Most of us probably associate bats with fall and Halloween, but these creatures are active year-round, especially during the summer months. Oh good, as if mosquitoes weren't enough.

This time of year, baby bats (pups) are taking their first flights from their roosts, increasing the chances of encountering them around homes. Here’s a look at Utah’s bats and what to do if you come across them.

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Utah hosts at least 18 confirmed bat species, predominantly in the southern regions, that's us by the way, showcasing the state's diverse bat population. Bats are unique mammals capable of true flight, found statewide where food, shelter, and water are plentiful.

These nocturnal predators primarily feed on insects, crucial for maintaining ecological balance by controlling pest populations. During lactation, female bats have heightened water needs, relying on standing water sources.

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In winter, many Utah bats migrate or hibernate, with some using caves, mines, or cliff crevices. Unlike eastern states where bats hibernate in large groups, Utah bats typically hibernate alone or in small clusters.

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Migration also plays a role for five bat species in Utah, heading south from late summer to early fall and returning in spring. Kimberly Hersey, from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, notes an uptick in bat encounters during this period, especially with migratory species like the Mexican free-tailed bat.

Encountering bats near homes, particularly in attics, often involves maternity colonies where mothers and pups are present. It’s essential to avoid disturbing these colonies during summer when pups are dependent on their mothers. Wildlife experts advise waiting until late summer when young bats can fly before attempting removal.

If bats enter living spaces, such as your home, caution is crucial due to the risk of rabies. Never handle bats bare-handed; instead, encourage them to exit by opening windows and turning off indoor lights. If necessary, gently capture and release bats outside using protective gloves and a container.

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To prevent bats from roosting in attics, homeowners can use strategies like cooling attics with fans and sealing entry points with appropriate materials, being mindful of nesting seasons. Effective exclusion methods, like bird netting, can safely guide bats out while preventing re-entry.

For more guidance on safely coexisting with bats and other wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

OK, I admit that bats do contribute by helping control insect populations and may have other contributions to the ecology. Just don't ask me to have them over for dinner.

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