CONCORD — Are you planning to remove bats from your property? Be aware that a new rule designed to protect bats prohibits the exclusion of bats from unoccupied structures by licensed Wildlife Control Operators from May 15 through Aug. 15, unless the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has documented a rabid bat on the property.

The rule was established this year in response to growing concern for the status of many of New Hampshire's bat populations, which have been decimated by white-nose syndrome in recent years.

Bats in New Hampshire have suffered greatly as a result of white-nose syndrome. Populations of five of the state's eight species of bats have plummeted, with hibernating numbers of the once-common little brown bat plunging over 99 percent, according to Emily Brunkhurst, a biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.

"This rule helps protect our remaining bat populations during the time when they are raising young," she said. "While this measure is certainly helpful, we strongly urge people to avoid evicting bats from any structure, occupied or otherwise, during the summer months. Our bats are in big trouble, and, this is something concrete you can do to help them survive."

WNS was recently found for the first time in Rockingham County, bringing the total number of New Hampshire counties where the deadly bat disease has been found to four.

So far, there has been no success with finding a treatment for WNS, and the disease continues to appear in new bat colonies across the country every winter.

To learn more about New Hampshire's bats, white-nose syndrome, and how you can help, visit wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/bats.html.

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