Fellow Wildlife Control Professionals take note; a rare bat species has been recently discovered in a Connecticut dwelling according to reports from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The juvenile Eastern Small Footed Bat (Myotis leibii) was discovered malnourished, fatigued, and clinging to a basement window screen in the eastern portion of the state, according to a Middletown Press report.
The Eastern Small Footed Bat’s population is considered stable throughout most of its range, which, given its name, includes much of eastern North America. However, in Connecticut’s case, the discovery is considered rare as this marks the first recorded presence of the species in the state since the 1940’s. Their presence has been inferred through the use of bio-acoustic data within the state.
The species is listed as “endangered” in portions of Canada. In some U.S. states like Pennsylvania, the same bat, commonly referred to as small-footed Myotis, is listed as threatened. Nationally, it has no special protection. The Eastern Small-footed Bat was proposed for federal endangered or threatened listing due to losses from White Nose Syndrome (WNS), but in October of 2013, after reviewing the best available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the listing was not warranted.
The Eastern Small-footed Bat has brownish/golden fur, with a distinctive black “masked” face and ears, and blackish-brown wings and tail membrane. It is distinguished from other Myotis bat species by a black face and noticeable small size. The body is little more than 3½ inches long, including a 1½-inch tail. Wingspans range from 8¼ to 9¾ inches. Under good conditions, the species has an estimated 6-12 year lifespan in the wild.
DEEP has been compiling data showing several "hot spots" in Connecticut, suggesting that the species is making a comeback in the state. Threats to the species include destruction and disturbance of hibernation sites due to human encroachment and hikers. Open caves can be degraded and bats disturbed when people enter these areas recreationally. White Nose Syndrome, a presence of a white fungus on the muzzle, ears, or wings of bats in hibernation sites, has caused unprecedented numbers of bat mortality across a rapidly increasing portion of the eastern United States. WNS usually culminates in starvation and death. WNS has fatal effects on many Northeast bat species, including Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) in recent years. The disease is believed to be perpetuated by human recreation distributing the fungus from cave site to cave site on boots and hiking gear.
Eviction and control of bats from dwellings is a regular practice for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators in the Northeast. Removal typically involves a “one-way exit device” secured to entry points, with the sealing and screening of alternate access areas. The device allows bats to leave the structure of their own accord, and eliminates reentry. These practices should be conducted after pup-rearing, when young bats have learned to fly and are mobile. This avoids risk of separating adult bats from their young; which in turn could cause death and decay inside a structure from pups sealed inside.
Many pest and wildlife control companies specialize in bat eviction and exclusion to non-lethally remove bats and keep them from returning to the attractive roosting areas of barns, roofs, attics and shutters. Roof systems typically give off heat from sunlight - making them ideal roosting areas for bats who would otherwise utilize tree bark, nooks, and rock ledges.
Although the rabies virus is rare in bats, homeowners should avoid coming in contact with wild mammals such as bats, and consult with state agencies or a licensed professional wildlife control operator to mitigate nuisance bat situations.
As for the Eastern Small-footed bat in question found in Connecticut, DEEP Wildlife Conservationist Maureen Heidtmann ensured the bat was hydrated, fed, and cared for. Bat rehabilitator Linda Bowen monitored the animal through mid-September, until it was deemed healthy and fully grown.