Bat Encounters May Rise With Start Of Fall

Sep 9, 2021

This Townsend's big-eared bat was found in an abandoned mine on lands managed by the BLM.

Cooler weather may increase your chance for an encounter with a bat. There are several reasons for this, including bat and human behavior. Entomologist with USU Extension Zach Schumm told his story of coming face-to-face with a bat in his laboratory.

"It just looked like a bat was flying outside. And when I started walking over to the office section, it just kind of flew right past my head. It just, like, made its way in somehow through the ceiling, and I just had a bat friend in lab," Schumm said.

Schumm has a background in wildlife and felt comfortable handling the situation, but many people feel apprehensive when dealing with bats.

Adam Brewerton with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources studies bat behavior. He said there are many species of bats, but the changing season may mark a transition for both migratory and hibernating species. 

"By the time late summer comes around and coming into fall, all species of bats become a little bit more nomadic," Brewerton said.

Fall is also breeding season for many species, which is a reason why people may be more likely to notice bat activity.

Dr. Nicki Frey, a biology professor at Utah State University, studies the human dimensions of wildlife conflict. She said fall brings cooler temperatures and sees more people outside or leaving their windows open.

"So just general human behavior, just enjoying the fall is allowing us to be outside at the same time that bats are active," Frey said.

Although people are careful with interacting with bats due to their potential to carry disease, Frey says she has noticed more tolerance of bats lately.

"In the last five years, most of the calls I get are about from people that have bats in the area that they're concerned for their own human safety, but they have no interest in harming the bat," Frey said.

If you want to avoid encountering bats in your home, Frey says one of the easiest precautions you can take is turning off your porch light, or setting it to a motion trigger, so that it doesn’t attract insects.