CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– Bats have been depicted as sinister and scary in popular culture, but they play an essential role to our environment.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says there are nine species of bats in the state, and five are considered endangered. There are multiple reasons for the decline including a disease known as White-nose Syndrome, habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, and climate change. Female bats only have one pup a year, so the population grows slowly. Habitat loss means there are fewer natural places to roost. But, there are ways you can help support these flying mammals in your community and backyard.

Conservationists suggest putting up a bat house, much like a bird house. Females can protect and nurture their young over the winter, keeping them warm and safe. Also, a new and clean house are free of white-nose syndrome. You can buy one or build your own. Learn how to build and install a bat house at the website.

MassWildlife offers these suggestions to help support bats:

  • Educate yourself and others to help dispel myths and fears about bats. Read the Massachusetts Wildlife magazine article Bat Myths Debunked, to learn more about the fascinating and beneficial features of bats.
  • Be a citizen scientist. If there is a colony of 10 or more bats on your property, please report it here. Colonies may be found in trees, buildings, attics, barns, sheds, or other outbuildings. This information will be used to help conserve the state’s endangered population of little brown bats.
  • Protect habitat for bats. If you have old, dead, or dying trees on your property, leave them standing as potential roost sites for bats.
  • If you must exclude or evict bats from your home, ensure the process is safe and humane by following MassWildlife’s recommendations found in the Massachusetts Homeowner’s Guide to Bats.
  • Reduce pesticide use to ensure there are plenty of insects for bats to feed on. 
  • Create a bat-friendly landscape in your backyard by adding water features, such as a pond, and night-scented flowers.