Contact(s): Drew Feldkirchner, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program Director, 608-235-3905
MADISON - International Bat Appreciation Day is today, April 17, and one easy way to show appreciation for Wisconsin's native bats is to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund.
"Donors to the Endangered Resources Fund provide critical support for Wisconsin's native species and State Natural Areas that make Wisconsin a special place," says Drew Feldkirchner, director of DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "If you didn't get a chance to donate on your Wisconsin income tax form, you can donate online at any time."
To donate via the Wisconsin income tax form, just fill in a donation amount next to the Endangered Resources Fund line.
All donations, whether direct online or via the state income tax form, are tax deductible and matched dollar for dollar. A donation of any size to the Endangered Resources Fund makes a difference, Feldkirchner says.
Donations to the Endangered Resources Fund help fund work to protect and restore more than 750 rare animal and plant species, along with Wisconsin's system of State Natural Areas. Such donations, license plate sales and grants account for 75 percent of funding for rare species and State Natural Areas.
Wisconsin has eight native bat species and has one of the highest concentrations of hibernating bats in the Midwest. These flying, insect-eating mammals play a vital role in many Wisconsin ecosystems and in providing natural pest control. A 2011 North American study [PDF] (exit DNR) estimated that bats save Wisconsin's agriculture industry between $658 million to $1.5 billion annually in pesticide costs.
Four of Wisconsin's bat species are cave bats and threatened by white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease of bats that has killed upwards of 7 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada and was first detected in Wisconsin in 2014. White-nose syndrome does not affect people or other animal species, but causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements.
Donations to the Endangered Resources Fund help Wisconsin bats by helping fund DNR conservation biologists who monitor bats' health, status and trends. Read the DNR Wisconsin Bat Program newsletter [PDF] to learn about their work with partners to help find treatments for WNS, to protect habitat for bats, and to conduct research that will help guide recovery of Wisconsin bat populations.