More Insects In Ohio? Let's Save The Indiana Bat!
Did you know there are many endangered species in Ohio?
Can you name them?
I know that the Indiana bat is one.
I am the voice of this special Ohio mammal.
Indiana bats have been endangered since 1967. They have been rapidly dying for many reasons.
All should be stopped!
The scientific name of the Indiana bat is Myotis sodalis. Myotis means “mouse ear.” The Indiana bat has small, mouse-like ears.
Human disturbance of caves that bats use for winter hibernating is the first reason they have been dying.
During hibernation, they cluster in groups of up to 500 per square foot.
In some of the largest hibernation caves, 20,000 - 50,000 bats gather.
If even one episode of human disturbance happens, many bats will die.
Large numbers of Indiana bat deaths have occurred due to human disturbance during hibernation.
Bats are important parts of our ecosystem, eating many night-flying insects, including crop pests.
Their job in eating insects is very important! Indiana bats eat up to half their body weight in insects each night. They eat different insects found along rivers, lakes and in the uplands.
The second reason for their decline is the bats eat insects, but pesticides kill insects leaving less for the bats.
When bats eat contaminated insects, drink contaminated water, or absorb the chemicals while feeding in areas that have been treated by people, this also contributes to bat deaths.
The third reason for bat deaths is caves are popular sites for people to explore.
Human visits drive bats away. If a cave entrance is blocked with barricades to keep humans out, the temperature in the cave goes up.
Even a few degrees in change of temperature can be bad for bats.
The next reason is summer habitat loss.
Indiana bats use trees as roosting and foraging sites during summer months. Loss of forested habitats can cause bats to die.
Finally, the white-nose disease is spreading to bats throughout Ohio and this is causing our friends to die.
What is being done to help the Indiana bat?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan for the Indiana bat in 1983 and is now revising that plan.
“Public lands like National Wildlife Refuges and U.S. Forest Service lands are managed for Indiana bats by protecting forests. This means ensuring that there are the size and species of trees needed by Indiana bats for roosting; and providing a supply of dead and dying trees that can be used as roost sites. In addition, caves used for hibernation are managed to maintain suitable conditions for hibernation and eliminate disturbance.” USFWS
Education and Outreach
Indiana bats are very helpful to our ecosystem. Without them people would have billions more insects.
Will you help spread the word for our friend, the Indiana bat?
Mary McCool Berry is a 30 year Lakewood resident and retired Lakewood City Schools educator (31 years). McCool Berry is the author of numerous grants funded to bring deep learning experiences to Lakewood's students. Mary McCool Berry, M.Ed., is the founder of Schools with Soul, works as an independent educational consultant. Schools with Souls is an organization dedicated to bringing whole child, experiential, project based learning to all children in every school. schoolswithsoul.com
McCool Berry also volunteers at Emerson and Roosevelt elementary schools. Students at these schools are involved in project based learning experiences involving immigration and species survival. Mary McCool Berry also posts education articles on her Linked In page.