Bats make great neighbors. They amaze us with their nightly acrobatic displays while gobbling up thousands of flying insects -- all for free! But they need safe places to sleep during the day, suitable roosts to raise their young, and cool, protected spots to hibernate in the winter. Unfortunately due to our ever-expanding development, bats have lost many of the forests, caves and other natural areas that they have used for shelter. But some bats have found alternative roosts. They may take up residence in our homes, either in the attic or in the space behind our walls. Sometimes they find suitable roosting areas in garages, barns or other structures. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can safely coexist with our small, flying friends by making sure there are no openings where the bats can squeeze into our living space.
If you are uncomfortable sharing your home with bats, there are humane ways to exclude them by using a one-way exit and then sealing any holes after all the bats have left. Bats in our area give birth in June and the young cannot fly until August. Excluding bats from your home during these summer months will only trap the bat pups inside to starve. So plan to do this when the bats are awake and active, but not while there may be young bats inside. Depending on the situation, you can do this yourself or hire a professional. In New York, the people you can call to help with exclusions are called Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCOs). They are private business owners licensed by the DEC to handle and remove wildlife issues in and around your home. Unfortunately, not all of these individuals or companies treat bats humanely. But you can make decisions about who you will hire to make sure that bats don’t suffer or die, but instead are safely removed using a live exclusion. Just do some research and ask some questions!
Check company websites. Those who talk about bats as pests that need to be exterminated, and those that use poisons do not need further consideration. Those who use scare tactics that make bats out to be dangerous and health hazards may not be the ideal choice either. Start with companies who strive to resolve wildlife problems humanely and who are experienced at performing live exclusions.
Call and ask questions.
Have them describe their bat removal process. Make sure they will inspect your home, formulate a plan and answer any of your questions.
The removal process should NOT include:
poisons or pesticides
killing or harming any bats
use of traps or relocation
removal during maternity season
You DO want the company to have:
experience with live exclusions
familiarity with bat species being excluded
possession of a valid license and insurance
Ask for at least 3 client references with phone numbers
Remember that if you find bats in your house, that they do not mean you any harm. They often have no place else to go. In many cases, we can safely and peacefully live side-by-side with bats. But even when we have to make them leave our homes, we should be kind.
Organizations with helpful information:
Bat Conservation International
Alberta Community Bat Program