Dear Bat World Sanctuary Supporters,
Your first round of letters helped, but the bats still need you! On July 10th, we sent an email to you with details regarding the states that are restricting bat rehabilitation and release on the speculation that humans may be capable of transmitting Covid-19 to our native bats. We included a list of officials to write for each state. Many of you wrote to your states; thank you so much for that! Many of you also received form letters back from your states, which were expected (although the state of Washington took a different route in alleging that misinformation was being spread). The bottom line is that your letters have helped bats, and we are very grateful to you, our “bat defenders”.
The National Wildlife Health Center performed in vivo testing on big brown bats and the test did not reveal any morbidity or mortality in bats that were inoculated with the SARS-CoV2 virus. Additionally, an expert Risk Assessment done by the USGS and US Fish and Wildlife Service placed high confidence that the use of COVID-specific PPE (i.e. N95-type masks, clean gloves and good disinfection/hygiene practices) should minimize the risk of human-to-bat transmission, including bats in rehabilitation settings, not just laboratories. If that weren’t enough, a recent paper on Sars-Cov-2-analysys in vertebrates indicated that of 37 bat species tested, 8 scored low and 29 scored very low, indicating that bats have a low to very low probability of becoming infected by the virus.
A list of states and their current status is below. Please note that if your state is not listed, then there were likely never any restrictions taking place on bat rescue and rehabilitation.
The following states have now eased some of the restrictions. Bats can be rescued and the release of healthy bats is now occurring under certain conditions.
California – The rescue and release of rehabilitated bats is allowed as long as PPE continues to be utilized.
Massachusetts – Three facilities in Massachusetts are now authorized to accept bats. The status on releasing rehabilitated bats is pending.
New Jersey – One facility is now authorized to accept bats. The status on releasing rehabilitated bats is pending.
New York – Licensed bat rescuers who test negative for both the COVID antibody test and a swab test need to forward the results to state officials and they will be allowed to release big brown bats.
Texas – The rescue and release of rehabilitated bats is allowed as long as PPE continues to be utilized.
The states that have not eased restrictions include the following: Please continue to send letters to these state officials encouraging them to allow bat rescue, rehabilitation and release.
Marianne Hudson: [email protected]
Laurie Fortin: [email protected]
Holly Niederriter: [email protected]
Idaho (Requires euthanasia of bats, hundreds of completely healthy bats have been killed by pest control operators in the last two months.)
Jon Rachael: [email protected]
No name available: [email protected]
Becky Doyle: [email protected]
Shevenell Webb: [email protected]
Charles Brown: [email protected]
Virginia (Also requires euthanasia of healthy bats. Ironically, the rehabilitation of other wildlife proven to be capable of contracting Covid-19 from humans is allowed.)
Richard Reynolds: [email protected]
Megan.Kirchgessner: [email protected]
Wisconsin (Release is allowed although rescue is still prohibited.)
Amanda Kamps: [email protected]
SPECIAL NOTE: The restrictions that some states placed on bat rescue and rehabilitation was at the direction of The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, a non-governmental organization. Please also send an email to the following to voice your dismay at the loss of healthy bat life caused over the past few months by their organization’s recommendations. Please also send a tweet to @fishwildlife.
Director of Conservation Initiatives
Director of Operations
Dr. Jonathan Mawdsley
SAMPLE LETTER TO COPY AND PASTE:
Dear (insert the name of state and/or federal officials).
I am aware of the restrictions placed on bat rescue and research in my state due to the speculation that bats may be able to contract Covid-19 from humans. I am also aware that recent in vivo testing on big brown bats did not reveal any morbidity or mortality when inoculated with the SARS-CoV2 virus. Consequently, several states have lifted their restrictions on bat rescue. It is important to note, despite this speculation, over half of the US states placed no restrictions on bat rescue and rehabilitation whatsoever.
Leaving these restrictions in place is a potential health hazard as members of the public are actively rescuing and caring for bats (oftentimes barehanded) because they cannot get help from licensed bat rehabilitators in my state. These restrictions greatly increase the chance of a member of the public contracting bat rabies. These restrictions also place an undue burden on bat rescuers who are forced to turn the public away, knowing they can save the life of the bat if allowed to help. Additionally, healthy releasable bats are dying in captivity due to stress because their release is being prevented.
The idea that restricting bat rescue will lessen the amount of human contact with bats has failed miserably. Prohibiting bat rescue has only increased the handling of bats by the public who have taken matters into their own bare hands as well as exposing the bat to entire families and their friends. Preventing vaccinated, trained, licensed rehabilitators from admitting bats into care leaves these vulnerable animals in the hands of untrained, unvaccinated individuals, and every one of those bats will die from mishandling, disease, starvation, dehydration, lack of proper nutrition, injury, or infection. More critically, these restrictions clearly jeopardize the lives of the public. For the sake of bats as well as the public, I am formally requesting that these restrictions be lifted immediately before more bats die, or worse, a member of the public dies from bat rabies.
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