Stop Restricting Bat Rescue during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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The Covid-19 pandemic is a terrible thing that we are all fighting, but now there is a new and devastating battle for bat rescuers and rehabilitators. 

Currently, it is thought that the newly emerging SARS-CoV2 virus originated from wildlife, possibly from pangolins, and/or horseshoe bats, an Asian species. To date, SARS-CoV2 has not been found naturally in any wild bat. There is currently no evidence that an introduction of SARS-CoV2 to North American bats would or would not cause population declines. Despite this, several governmental agencies are calling for restrictions on bat rehabilitation in caution that humans may be able to spread Covid-19 to bats. These restrictions include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Not allowing wildlife rehabilitators to respond to calls from the public
  • The euthanasia of all bats that come into care
  • Not releasing any bats currently in care
  • Putting orphaned bats in a tree as "the mothers will come back" (Note: orphaned pups are preyed on by birds and fire ants if not rescued)
  • Only accepting threatened or endangered species for rehabilitation and release
  • Directing the public to contact local Animal Care and Control agencies if a bat is found on the ground, regardless of the bat’s condition, so that the bat can be euthanized 

We see risks inherent in this approach which may not have been considered in developing these recommendations and guidelines, which are outlined in detail here.

On April 3rd, Bat World Sanctuary crafted a position statement on these restrictions and the damage they will cause to bat populations and the public alike. Our statement can be read here. We also requested a statement from Dr. Merlin Tuttle, Founder of Bat Conservation International, which he graciously wrote on April 9th; his statement can be found here. On April the 15, the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association's Veterinary Committee also created a position statement, which can be read here. If you are in the state of Virginia, you may be interested in contacting your state official whose information can be found on this link from SaveLucyTheBat.org

Bats roost in hundreds of thousands of human structures and neighborhood trees throughout the U.S.  Bats come into close proximity to many people every single day. There is no possible way to control any potential spread of Covid-19 to bat populations, if indeed it could occur. Restricting bat rescuers from helping the public with downed bats is essentially the same as tying the hands of paramedics during an emergency. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

If you are an animal care professional and support our position statement, please send us your signature here as well as signing this petition

Thank you, on behalf of all the bats that need you now more than ever.