Wildlife Watch was disappointed to read recently in a local newspaper
that a New York county health commissioner encourages the killing of any
bat who gets into a house. The commissioner recommended using a tennis
racket to kill bats, saying it was a “pretty cool tool.”
She claimed that people may not know when they are bitten, and cited
examples of sleeping infants and those who are intoxicated.
She suggested that even if the bat merely touched a person, the bat
should be captured and killed.
The county health commissioner’s recommendation was actually a
dangerous exaggeration based on unfounded fears and ignorance.
On the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website they say it’s
unlikely that one wouldn’t know he or she was bitten by a bat, and only in
a very rare case would a bat bite unless provoked.
In fact, chasing after a bat could frighten the bat, and provoke it to
bite the tennis racket wielding pursuer.
Bat Conservation International, a well-respected organization, clearly
advises not to kill with a tennis racket as it may render the bat’s brain
tissue unsuitable for rabies testing.
Thus, the person would have to be given rabies shots unnecessarily.
The CDC website also states,
“When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not
true. Bats are not blind. They are neither rodents nor birds. They will
not suck your blood — and most do not have rabies. Bats play key roles
in ecosystems around the globe, from rain forests to deserts, especially
by eating insects, including agricultural pests. The best protection we
can offer these unique mammals is to learn more about their habits and
recognize the value of living safely with them.”
The best solution? Prevention.
Plug holes and use well fitting screens to keep bats and other critters
from entering your home.
Bat Conservation International blames habitat loss for bats roosting in
buildings, and they claim it is becoming more common. If there’s no chance
that the bat has bitten anyone, they suggest releasing the bat outside
using the following method: first, place a box or can over the bat where
he or she is roosting on a ceiling or wall.
Then, gently scoot a piece of cardboard between the box and wall so the
bat is trapped.
Then, release the winged friend back to the outdoors.