Be bat aware: Maternity season starts April 16
Florida’s four-month bat maternity season starts April 16 and lasts through Aug. 14. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding the public that they cannot do exclusions to remove bats from buildings during this time when bats are giving birth and raising their young.
Florida is home to 13 species of native bats, including rare and threatened species. Many bats roost in natural sites such as trees with cavities and peeling bark. However, homeowners and building managers who need to exclude bats roosting in houses or other structures can do so as long as it is not done during maternity season.
In south Florida, additional precautions are needed to ensure Florida bonneted bats, an endangered species, are not roosting in a structure because they may give birth to pups outside of the April 16 to Aug. 14 bat maternity season.
“Maternity season begins in mid-April when groups of bats gather to give birth and raise young, and continues through mid-August when young bats are able to fly and feed themselves,” said Melissa Tucker of the FWC’s Species Conservation Planning Section. “Bats are beneficial to Florida, since they consume many insects, including pests that can significantly damage agricultural crops.”
FWC staff are working to learn more about Florida’s bats, including the Florida bonneted bat. Biologists are collaborating with University of Florida researchers on a study of a bonneted bat population on the FWC’s Fred C. Babcock-Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. FWC staff also are working with the Florida Forest Service to conserve bats at the FWC’s new Withlacoochee Caves Critical Wildlife Area.
There are several ways that Florida residents and visitors can help bats:
- Preserve natural roost sites, including trees with cavities and peeling bark. Dead fronds left on palms can also provide roosting spots for bats.
- Put up a bat house.
- Report unusual bat behavior to: MyFWC.com/BatMortality.
Get to know more about Florida bats by going to MyFWC.com/Bats. Contact your closest FWC regional office to speak with a regional wildlife assistance biologist if you have questions about bats in buildings.
This year, the FWC is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Florida’s Wildlife Management Areas, which conserve bats and many other wildlife species. Go to MyFWC.com/WMA 75 to find out about WMAs near you and special events and activities during 2017.
FWC provides tips for living with alligators
The American alligator is a conservation success story. Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population, which is estimated at 1.3 million and consists of alligators of every size. They are an important part of Florida’s ecosystem, but should be regarded with caution and respect.
During spring when temperatures rise, alligators become more active. Although alligator incidents are rare, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recommends taking precautions when having fun in and around the water. Alligators inhabit all 67 counties in Florida and can be found anywhere there is standing water. Reduce the chances of conflicts with alligators by swimming only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Also keep pets on a leash and away from the water.
Because alligators control their body temperature by basking in the sun, they may be easily observed. However, the FWC urges people to keep their distance if they see one. And never feed alligators as it is dangerous and illegal.
The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program to address complaints concerning specific alligators. People with concerns about an alligator should call the FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). SNAP uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators 4 feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property. The FWC also works diligently to keep Floridians and visitors informed, including providing advice about Living with Alligators.
Learn more about alligators at MyFWC.com/Alligator.