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Hazards to bats often easy to avoid

Sun., Nov. 28, 2010

Skeletal remains of a bat trapped in a cabin's wood stove.
A variety of bats, mostly big brown bats, died after being trapped in the chimney of a wood stove in a rarely used cabin. Uncapped chimneys – and roofing projects – pose danger to bats.

Uncapped stove pipes lure bats into death trap

A wood-burning stove in a rarely used cabin could be a death trap to bats.

Lance Lerum of the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon recently discovered a large number of bat skeletons in the stove of a cabin unused for more than a year.

“This demonstrates the issue of bats being caught in wood stoves because they can get down the pipe, but not back up,” said Pat Ormsbee, the agency’s Region 6 bat specialist.

The hazard to bats posed by wind turbines have been a major concern to bat conservationists in recent years. But the Lerum photos illustrate some of the threats humans have posed to the species for years.

Threats posed by stove pipes on rarely used facilities may seem small in comparison to disease and wind turbines, but Ormsbee said a few sites can kill a significant number of bats.

“It is a relatively small conservation effort to cap the stove pipes so that bats and other wildlife do not get trapped in the stove,” she said.

In this case, Lerum did not positively identify the skeletons. “The live animals I saw were mostly big brown bats and I suspect the majority of dead animals were, too,” he said.

Re-roofing projects are classic instances in which bats can be trapped to perish in attics since gaps in old shingle roofs can attract bats.

A plan to put a metal roof on a Lake Chelan State Park building a few years ago was postponed when inspectors found a colony of bats in the attic. The project was postponed until fall when the bats had left.

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