No one knew what to think, scientifically, when a woman in North Fort Myers discovered a couple dozen strange bats living in her backyard in 2003. The Florida bonneted bat wasn't a distinct species. But a flurry of research followed, producing a federal endangered species tag in 2014. Today the Florida bonnet bat is considered among the world’s rarest.
Chances are equally rare you are going to find a Florida bonneted bat in your attic, eve or chimney. But just in case, the FWC has a reminder: Bat maternity season starts April 15. So if there are bats roosting and you want them to roost elsewhere, now is the time to act.
“Maternity season begins when groups of bats gather to give birth and raise their young until the young bats are able to fly and feed themselves,” said Melissa Tucker, an FWC species specialist. “In Florida this season occurs from mid-April through mid-August for most bat species.”
There are 13 bat species in Florida, including threatened and rare species such as the Florida bonneted bat. “Exclusions” of bats must be completed by April 15. After that, it’s hands off – which is the law in Florida regarding bats in general – until Aug. 14.
Bat exclusions typically require a professional or at least a consult. As a word to the wise the FWC has a story about a bat exclusion gone wrong, terribly wrong. Excerpt:
"When the workers finished, they assumed that most of the bats had escaped and that those that didn’t would simply perish unnoticed inside the walls of the courthouse. They were wrong."
» Photo: The endangered Florida bonneted bat, via Zoo Miami.
» Captive breeding may be the last chance to save Florida's grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird. (Via Audubon)