Wildlife and Heritage Service Policy Paper: Wildlife Control Cooperators and Nuisance Bats

18 November 2008

1. Pesticide applicators must follow DNR guidelines for bat exclusions.

All companies that do nuisance bat work in the state of Maryland must have a Wildlife Damage Control Operator's permit from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, including pesticide applicators that are licensed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and national pesticide companies with offices in Maryland. Pesticide applicators who are found to be in violation of their pesticide applicator’s license by fogging bat colonies that are in the building, applying chemicals, or otherwise improperly excluding bats will be reported to DNR police and the Maryland Department of Agriculture. These actions may result in revocation of the Wildlife Damage Control Operator's permit.

2. An Operator wanting to do bat work must possess proper knowledge of bat exclusion techniques.

Only non-lethal methods may be used for the removal of nuisance bats by Wildlife Damage Control Operators. Operators who wish to do bat work must indicate “mammals, including bats” specifically on their permit form. Only those Operators who select "mammals, including bats" will be listed on DNR’s bat web page and referred to customers by DNR. Operators are strongly advised to become familiar with information on DNR’s bat exclusion policy and refer customers to the web site whenever possible.

3. A single bat found within the living quarters may be removed without DNR approval regardless of the time of year.

A single bat found within the living quarters or working space (e.g., bedroom, living room, kitchen, hallway, office) may be captured and released at any time of the year without prior approval from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided that contact with people or pets has not occurred. If in doubt, contact the county health department. The Operator should make an effort to find out how the bat got inside the living quarters or working space and whether or not a colony is present. If the bat was found in the living quarters or working space during March 1-August 31, the Operator should immediately examine the building for potential colonies and temporarily or permanently seal ways of entrance into the living quarters or working space from non-living quarters. If the Operator finds or suspects that a colony exists in any non-living quarters (e.g. the attic, roof, soffet, walls, etc.) then the Operator must diagnose the situation further and determine the main entrance holes and potential future access holes. An exit count of the colony at dusk is helpful and can be done by the Operator or the owner of the house. Potential access holes can be sealed leaving the main exits open until September 1.

4. Health department officials should be contacted immediately if a person is bitten by a bat.

Health Department officials may authorize the submission of individual bats for rabies testing if that bat has bitten an individual person, or if exposure to the animal cannot be ruled out (i.e. exposure involving young children that cannot talk, mentally-impaired individuals, etc.). Only humane methods of euthanasia can be used for securing the specimen for rabies testing. Bats submitted for testing should be identified to species if possible. A key to bat identification is available on the web site.

5. Bat colonies may not be excluded from buildings from March 1 to August 31.

Non-lethal exclusion is the only method permitted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for nuisance bat colonies. Exclusion of colonies must take place after August 31 but before bats begin hibernation. Once the bats have left or have been successfully excluded, sealing of the main entrance is required and must be completed. Repellents are not effective and are not long-term solutions to nuisance bat situations, including pesticides used to treat insect pests while bats are still present in the colony. Information on exclusion techniques is available on DNR’s bat web page.

6. If the customer is reluctant to wait until September 1 for exclusion, the Operator should survey the roost, outline work to the customer that can be done prior to September 1.

If the colony is visible, the Operator must survey the roost and report the stage of development of the young (fur present or absent, relative size of pup to female) Bats may give birth anytime between April through early July. Colonies may be excluded prior to September 1 with a letter of exception available from the DNR website. No letter is needed if the exclusion occurs after September 1. Once the main exits have been identified, sealing of other possible entrances may and should occur prior to exclusion. There is always work that can be done in preparation for the exclusion. This tact is ultimately more satisfying for the customer and the one DNR recommends for cooperators.

7. Cooperators should always present factual information on bats, particularly related to health issues such as rabies and histoplasmosis.

For customer service purposes, the Operator must take the time to allay the customer’s fear of bats if necessary. Operators must be knowledgeable in answering a customer’s questions about bats and diseases or bat behavior. The DNR bat web page should be consulted if necessary for information on rabies and histoplasmosis. Excluding bats at the wrong time of year can lead to far greater problems for the homeowner than the one he or she currently faces such as bats dying and creating an odor problem or more bats getting inside the living quarters. Female bats that have been excluded and have flightless young trapped inside the house will fly around the outside of the house and try to find another way to get to their pups. This situation increases the likelihood that the bats may come in contact with people.