SALT LAKE CITY – Halloween is Friday and bats may be among the creepy creatures meant to cause fright.
But the little animals actually help Utah farmers and other residents.
Kim Hersey, a mammal conservation coordinator at the Utah Division of Wildlife, explains that bats feast on insects.
“Bats are our biggest predator of night-flying insects,” she points out. “They also focus a lot on some of our big agricultural pests likes moths, and save estimated billions of dollars each year in the use of pesticides and crop losses.”
Hersey says bats also eat mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile virus.
Wildlife officials report that nationally about half of all bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered.
Hersey says the 18 species of bats that call Utah home can be found throughout the state.
She says that the biggest challenge to bat conservation is the lack of knowledge about most species.
“Figuring out exactly where it is they live, and where they go,” she explains. “Those are essential things to know before you can take measures to conserve a species.”
Hersey says bats are hard to track because they’re small and out of sight during the day.
She adds that other bat challenges include roost disturbance from recreational caving and mine exploration and vandalism.