Bats are beneficial animals. They are important in the food web by keeping down insect populations.
They are the only mammal to truly fly. Bats are nocturnal and important predators of insects at night.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, a bat consumes up to 25 percent of its weight a night, with the smaller, hibernating species estimated to consume nearly a million insects per bat per year.
Nine species of bats regularly occur in Pennsylvania:
- Little brown
- Big brown
- Eastern pipistrelle
- Northern long-eared
The seminole and evening bats have been found a few times in Pennsylvania but are not considered regular residents.
Most hibernate in caves or mines and many use tree bark or crevices, buildings, or rock piles for summer roosts.
Bats in State Parks and Forests
DCNR lands provide important habitat sources of food, water and shelter for bat species in Pennsylvania.
Several species of bats use habitat on DCNR lands, including:
- Rock crevices
- Under bark of trees
- Old buildings
The Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat are federally-listed species that requires special protection measures. Other bat species are listed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Learn about bats by visiting state parks, such as Canoe Creek, that host
interpretive programs on bats to help the public understand bat biology, habits, and the importance of bats.
Bat Habitat Management
DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission manage a combined 3.8 million acres of mostly forested public lands for many uses and values, including wildlife habitat.
Some activities on these lands include:
- Timber management
- Prescribed burns
- Roads, trails, fencing
These actions can impact Indiana and northern long-eared bats using foraging, roosting, and habitat at different points in their life cycles.
However, timber removal and prescribed burns also benefit the bats by creating foraging and roosting habitat.
To minimize and offset these impacts, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and DCNR developed the
State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan for Indiana and Northern Long-Eared Bats Frequently Asked Questions (PDF), and obtained an Incidental Take Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on December 23, 2020.
The Habitat Conservation Plan outlines how the Game Commission and DCNR will address impacts across state lands over a 30-year period; and allows more proactive planning for bat conservation.
It includes initiatives such as seasonal restrictions, canopy retention, and hibernation protection.
Please visit the
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website for more information.