608-853-1307 or 608-957-7228 midwestbatspecialists@outlook.com
N1513 Hwy 22 Montello WI 53949

COVID- 19

In recent research from USGS National Wildlife Health Center that primarily focused on big brown bats, a study showed SARS-CoV2 was not detected in those bats exposed to the virus. While the result of this research is good news, there are still unknowns about disease susceptibility in bats during hibernation and unknown potential for transmission of this virus from humans to bats.

As a reminder, the virus that is circulating in the human population did not originate from North American bat species. Previous research has not involved bats in hibernation when both their respiration rates and immune system are significantly different than when they are active. Due to the unknown risk potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to bats, we will continue to follow guidance from

the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The agencies have put a temporary hold on bat rehabilitation and have set new guidelines for us to follow.

 

How to handle Bat in the home?

  • Bats in hibernation may be mistaken as sick or dead. At this time of year, regardless of the pandemic, it is best to leave them be, unless they are inside the living space of the home or there is potential or known exposure to rabies.
  • If an active bat is captured in a home’s living space, please follow the Wisconsin Department of Health services guidance on determining if it is considered a rabies exposure.
  • If it is determined that it was not considered a possible rabies exposure to humans or pets, the bat should be immediately released outside in a sheltered location such as under a bush or brush pile.
  • Bats are wild animals and should not be handled unless necessary. In most cases, bats can be safely relocated without physical contact using a shoebox or similar-sized container. Direct contact is not advised. If handling is unavoidable, it is recommended that leather gloves are used to gently relocate the bat and a face mask be worn (to protect the bat from humans).

 

Helpful Winter Bat Information

  • One species of bat in Wisconsin, the big brown bat, is known to form very small colonies that hibernate in buildings in winter. In rare instances, silver-haired bats may choose to hibernate in buildings too.
  • Big brown bats are hardy and can tolerate cooler and drier temperatures than other species. As a result, individuals or small colonies are sometimes found hibernating in attics, insulated barns, and garages.
  • In homes, bats may choose to hibernate in an attic, basement, crawl space, or wall.
  • Bats awaken occasionally during winter to move around or adjust to changing temperatures if their location is suddenly disturbed, too warm, or too cold.
  • If a bat is encountered and does not pose an immediate health risk leave the bat alone to continue hibernating until spring, if possible.

 

Can I still take bats to a rescue center?

  • Rehabilitators are currently unable to admit bats for care over winter and that the bat should be released immediately outside.
  • Until you hear otherwise from the Wisconsin DNR, no new bat admits to wildlife rehabilitation facilities should occur, with the exception of admittance for euthanasia i.e. rabies testing. 

 

 

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