New conservation measures are in place at state parks across the state to help protect and maintain the habitats of federally threatened and endangered bats.
The new conservation measures limit firewood collection and cutting of standing dead trees in certain areas to help protect and maintain habitats for the federally threatened northern long-eared bat and the federally endangered Indiana bat.
Standing dead trees along roads provide important habitats for bats.
“It is critical we work to protect bats because of their importance in maintaining a healthy ecosystem,” said State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger. “DCNR understands that firewood is an important source of fuel for locals. We are providing this guidance to help ensure those who rely on firewood are able to collect it without disturbing the habitats of these bats at critical times during their life cycles.”
Bats are vulnerable in April and at certain points throughout the year because they are still waking up or require dead trees as habitats to rear flightless young bats.
Firewood cutting and harvesting will be limited on designated roads in Bald Eagle, Buchanan, Elk, Forbes, Gallitzin, Loyalsock, Michaux, Moshannon, Pinchot, Rothrock, Sproul, Tiadaghton, Tioga Tuscarora, and William Penn state forests now through August 31.
Cutting also will be limited on designated roads in Bald Eagle, Pinchot, and Rothrock state forest districts between Sept. 1 through Nov. 1, and between April 1 and May 14, 2022.
Bats are protected because they manage insect pests and contribute to forest health.
In Pennsylvania, bats eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour and consume as much as 25 percent of their body mass in a single feeding. Pregnant or nursing females can consume their body weight in insects each night.
The conservation measures are included in the Bat Habitat Conservation Plan prepared by DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact their local district forest office for more information on how these conservation measures are applied in your area, and for detailed maps of areas where firewood harvesting is limited.
Visit DCNR’s website for more information about bat conservation efforts.
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