Creepy or Cute, Is It Illegal To Kill Bats In Arkansas?
The short answer is YES! But there is an exception. Bats elicit a wide range of emotions, from fear to fascination. Some people think of them as cute little mice with wings, while others may regard them as carnivorous, blood-sucking creatures from Hades. The truth lies somewhere in the middle of course.
Yes, killing them is illegal, with one caveat that we could find, more on that in a minute. Bats are, in fact, the only mammals capable of true flight and they play a crucial role in the balance of our ecosystem. Bats navigate in the dark by emitting high-frequency sonar or sounds that bounce back as echoes, which allows them to feed and fly in the dark.
Prepare To Be Amazed:
Did you know... little brown bats can consume 500 to 1,200 mosquitoes and other flying insects per hour? A colony of just 150 big brown bats will eat mass quantities of pests like cucumber beetles, June bugs, stinkbugs, and leafhoppers.
Other Bat Benefits:
Bat poo, better known as droppings or guano, is a valuable organic gardening resource, containing nutrients that contribute to rapid plant growth. Some say that these natural guano nutrients remain in the soil even longer than chemical fertilizers.
According to the University of Arkansas, the Natural State is home to 16 bat species, many of which, including the Indiana bat, gray bat, Ozark big-eared bat, and northern long-eared bat, have state and federal protection due to their status of being endangered or threatened. Disturbing these species during hibernation and breeding seasons has caused population declines over the last quarter century, therefore, the protection of all bat species is mandated by state law.
Keep Them Out:
The best thing to do is keep them out of your home or business in the first place. Spring and fall is when Bat-proofing can be done around your home. Bat-proofing techniques include sealing entrances, screening off openings, using steel wool or copper mesh, and filling cracks with insulation. Observing bat behavior at dusk or dawn is essential for determining entry and exit points.
Sometimes no matter how hard we try, bats get in and a colony is born. If they do then sealing off entrances to your living space is essential.
Depending on the situation, some people may opt to let small colonies remain, If removing the colony becomes necessary our recommendation is to call a professional. Remember, bats are federally protected creatures, so it's crucial to develop a plan for exclusion without trapping the bats within the structure. Again, call a professional wildlife nuisance control operator. If cleaning is needed after relocating a colony, precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of spores of Histoplasma capsulatum, which is a fungus found in the guano.
So, About That Killing Thing:
Yes, Killing Bats Is Illegal. Unless you have been bitten by that bat, after seeking medical attention, if you have killed the bat that bit you, you are required to turn it over to the Arkansas Department of Health for rabies testing.
- It is illegal to kill bats with chemicals or poisons.
- It is illegal to possess bats. Exception – nuisance bats may be trapped and released outside city limits within 24 hours.
- There are 3 endangered bats in Arkansas. – They are illegal to import, sell, purchase, possess, shoot, kill, injure, trap, net, snare, spear, catch, capture, or reduce to possession.
What If One Flies Into My House?
It happens. When it does its best to allow them to leave on their own, according to the University of Arkansas. Turn off your lights and open your doors or windows to the outside. Don't panic... Chasing and swatting at a bat can create unnecessary stress for both the bat and you. Bats can be captured using a butterfly net but be sure you wear thick leather gloves for protection. When releasing a captured bat, do so in an elevated location, they need space to drop down and catch air under their wings before flying away.
But, What About Rabies?!
Rabies is something to be concerned about with bats, however, transmission is extremely rare. Do not touch bats with your bare hands. Sick bats may pose a risk and are more likely to bite if handled. If bitten or scratched by a bat, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for rabies is very effective, a lack of treatment can be deadly.
Bats are amazing creatures and very misunderstood due to vampire books and movies, they are essential for pest control and whether you see them or not, they are there, quietly eating bugs and making baby bats.
For more detailed information about bats in Arkansas, their behavior, what they eat, and even ways to build habitats for them, read the article from whence most of this information was derived, by the University of Arkansas' Professor Rebecca McPeake.
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Gallery Credit: Elena Kadvany