WASHINGTON, D.C. – On October 24, Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT), Sen. Michael Braun (R-IN), and Representative Becca Balint (D-VT) introduced a resolution supporting the federal designation of ‘Bat Week’ for the week of October 24 to October 31, 2023, to emphasize the importance of conserving bat species and habitats to the environment, national economies, and public health. The resolution also calls on Congress to continue working to defeat White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that threatens bats’ key role as pollinators and pest control for agriculture.
“Over half of Vermont’s bat species are endangered, and the spread of White-nose Syndrome accompanied by human development poses a grave threat to the environmental and health benefits bats provide,” said Sen. Welch. “This resolution calls on Congress to sink its fangs into conservation efforts to protect bats and their habitats, and encourages national observance of ‘Bat Week’ to highlight the vital role bats play in the health of Vermonters and our environment.”
“Bats are very important to our natural ecosystem by helping to pollinate plants and control pests, but their populations are threatened by a fungal disease that has already killed millions of bats in North America. This resolution draws attention to their important role and the disease threatening our native bat populations,” said Sen. Braun.
“Bats play a critical role in Vermont’s ecosystem. Our environment and local farms depend on bats to keep forests and fields pollinated and healthy,” said Rep. Balint. “Vermonters care deeply about conservation and our diverse ecosystem. This resolution stands to highlight the importance of bats and support the conservation work it takes to protect them.”
Bats are present throughout the world, except in extremely cold regions, and are the second-largest order of mammals with over 1,400 species. In addition to controlling pests, bats play an important role in pollination and pest control, with recent studies estimating that bats save more than $1 billion annually in crop damage and pesticide costs in the United States corn industry.
These benefits are threatened by the spread of WNS, which has killed millions of bats in North America, including over 5.7 million bats in the northeastern United States since 2006. The disease has affected all six of Vermont’s cave bat species, and populations of cave bats have significantly declined since the disease was first reported in the state.
Full text of the resolution can be found here.