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BatsCelebrating 40 years of protecting Wisconsin's natural heritage

Group Awards

Comeback Champs

Wisconsin Industrial Sands Maiden Rock mine and the Wisconsin Specialty Sands Bay City mine are recognized as "Comeback Champs" for their commitment to managing and monitoring this critical habitat for bats in Wisconsin and in the Midwest. Company representatives were recognized by DNR and the state Natural Resources Board in fall 2010 for the work to protect bats. Accepting the awards were, left to right: Michele Maxson - West Region Environmental Health & Safety Manager; Al Nelson - Maiden Rock Plant Manager; Jenine Gigliotti - West Region Sustainable Development Coordinator, and Mark Waters - Hager City/Bay City Plant Manager

Bat Program

Save Wisconsin Bats!
Make a tax-deductible donation to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund:

  1. Donate online to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund website and type BATS in the "Enter Fund Name Here."
  2. Mail your tax-deductible check to:
    Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
    P.O. Box 2317
    Madison, WI 53701
    Attn: Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund

Get Involved

Help save Wisconsin bats! Here are several ways to help DNR and partners keep cave bats flying in Wisconsin's night sky.

Attend our Bat Festival
This educational event is set for Oct. 4, 2014 at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee.

Learn how to use a bat detector
Help detect bats by getting trained to use an acoustic device that records the sounds bats make when they find and capture prey. Bats emit ultrasonic clicks and buzzes above the range of human hearing which bounce off potential prey and back to the bats' sensitive ears.

Monitor a known bat roost
Get trained in how to monitor a bat house or other summer roost. The information you collect will help state researchers get a better handle on bat colony numbers and locations of bat roosts.

Give to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund
With limited public dollars available for efforts to save bats from white-nose syndrome, private contributions are even more important to sustain bat research, surveillance, monitoring, landowner support and education.

Build a bat house
Get easy-to-follow instructions on building and installing a bat house. You'll help provide a summer roost for bats and they'll help you keep a check on insect pests in your summer garden and your outdoor fun.

Keep bats out of your belfry
As their roosting habitat declines, bats may seek refuge inside your house, bell towers, other buildings. Cave bats are now listed as a threatened species and it's illegal to kill them. Get tips on getting them out of your house safely.

To the bat cave!

State bat scientists go underground this winter to search for white-nose syndrome. The disease was not found during 2011, 2012 or 2013 cave surveys in Wisconsin.

Disease threatens farms and forests as well as bats

A deadly bat disease is closing in on Wisconsin caves and has already killed up to 6.7 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada. White-nose syndrome, so-called because the fungus leaves a powdery white fuzz on hibernating bats' noses, ears and wings, kills 90 to 100 percent of bats in contaminated caves. White-nose syndrome poses a serious threat to the survival of cave bats in Wisconsin and to the state's ecosystems and economy.

When making the list is a good thing
Four Wisconsin cave bat species were officially listed in June 2011 as threatened species: little brown bats, big brown bats, Northern long-eared bat, Eastern pipistrelle. A fifth cave bat, the Indiana bat, is federally endangered.

Listing makes it illegal to kill these bats and offers them other protections. Other key parts of Wisconsin's comprehensive approach to conserving bats are working with cave and mine owners to reduce the chance of white nose syndrome being introduced or spread; tapping citizens to help conduct research to better understand Wisconsin bats and where they live, and participating in regional and national working groups to share the latest information, research and strategies.

Citizens to the bat rescue

DNR's bat crew has been racing to learn more about Wisconsin bats, where they live, and their habits and habitats, to find strategies to help bats survive white-nose syndrome. Citizens have been the key to that quest, with volunteers conducting surveys with bat detectors, actively monitoring summer bat roosts to keep tabs on bat numbers and health, and by contributing money to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Endowment.

Beef up on Bats

Long one of the most misunderstood groups of animals in the world, new research and monitoring have revealed that the scariest thing about bats is how fascinating and economically and ecologically important they are. For starters -- what an appetite! A single female bat can eat up to her body weight in insects every night. That's equal to a 200-pound man eating 800 quarter-pound cheese burgers in a single night!

Find out more at the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program website.

Volunteer to monitor bats
'Little brown bats, shown clustered here, are our most common bat species.

Little brown bats, shown clustered here, are Wisconsin's most common bat species.

Bat Facts

Scientific name: Eight bat species -- out of the more than 1,100 species world wide -- have been recorded in Wisconsin. All fall into the order Microchiroptera.

Five are so-called cave bats, which hibernate during winter in caves and mines, and are at risk from white nose syndrome. They are the Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bat, Northern Long-Eared Bat and the Eastern Pipistrelle.

The other three are "tree bats" that migrate south for winter; hoary, silver-haired, and Eastern red bats.

Size and life span: Wisconsin's smallest bat, the little brown bat, weighs .2 to .4 of an ounce, literally pocket change. The biggest bat, the hoary bat, is one ounce. Wisconsin bats can live for more than 30 years but average 10 to 15 years.

Habits and habitats: Bats are nocturnal. They emerge from their roosts shortly after sunset to forage for insects and return there during the middle of the night to digest their meals.

Cave bats hibernate in winter in caves, mines and other locations buffered from freezing temperatures. They emerge from hibernation in May and move toward summer sites near water to find a plentiful supply of hatching insects. Tree bats begin returning to Wisconsin in May. Females give birth in June and July, with most bats giving birth to one baby a year, called a pup.

Bats mate and prepare for the winter in August and September. Tree bats migrate south and cave bats move toward hibernacula and add layers of fat to their body in order to survive up to seven months with no food. Hibernation, bats can burn 30 to 60 days worth of fat if they are woken up or disturbed. Entering caves where bats hibernate and disturbing them can cause them to starve to death.

Food:Wisconsin bats are all insectivores. Bats use "echolocation" to find and capture prey: they emit ultrasonic clicks and buzzes above the range of human hearing which bounce off potential prey and back to the bats' sensitive ears.

Fun Facts: Bats can catch an insect every 10 seconds and a nursing female can consume her weight every night in mosquitoes and/or other insects. A recent study estimated the value of bats consumption of inspects pests at between $658 million and $1.5 billion.

Bats are mammals -- they give live birth and nurse their young. They are the only group of mammals to have ever evolved true flight.

Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects an hour, with crop and forest pests topping the menu. A recent national study put bats' value to Wisconsin's agricultural industry between $658 million and $1.5 billion a year. That doesn't include the mosquito control service bats deliver at backyard barbecues, camping trips, and ball games.

Two of Wisconsin's most important bat hibernation sites, or "hibernacula," are working underground sand mines in northwestern Wisconsin. The mines' owners, Wisconsin Industrial Sands Maiden Rock and the Wisconsin Specialty Sands, are recognized as "Comeback Champs" for their commitment to managing and monitoring this critical habitat for bats in Wisconsin and in the Midwest. Combined, the two mines provide winter habitat for 160,000 bats. The owners go to great lengths to avoid disturbing bats while the bats are hibernating in winter. That includes installing bat friendly gates and equipment, managing air flow patterns to maintain a certain humidity and temperature favorable to bats, and consulting with DNR on any major changes before putting them into place.

Limiting disturbances for hibernating bats is important because every time a bat wakes up it depletes one to two months' worth of its fat stores. Such disturbances can make it difficult for bats to survive the winter, and are a particular concern as the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome draws closer to Wisconsin and poses a major health threat to bats.