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Bat Week 2022!

Posted by Craig Newberry, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

The days are growing darker across the Pacific Northwest and while the night can be creepy, one creature you shouldn't fear in the dark is bats! These misunderstood mammals play a significant role in keeping our environment healthy. In fact, there are numerous reasons to be a fan of bats; for instance, many of them eat mosquitoes and they're super cool.

Little brown bat. Photo: J.N. Stuart via Flickr:

Bat Week is an international celebration of these flying mammals that takes place October 24-31, and it's no mystery why the party ends on Halloween. Bats have long gotten a bad rap, being lumped in with bloodsucking vampires and depicted in movies bombarding folks who wander into a creepy cave. However, you may be surprised to learn that bats aren't particularly active in the Pacific Northwest during the spooky season. Here, you're actually more likely to see them flying around during their peak activity months from June to August. And bats might forage in the air near you, but you're very unlikely to come into contact with one, their echolocation navigation not only helps them find insects but allows them to steer clear of obstacles!

During the summer when bats are busiest, Woodland Park Zoo's community science program, Bat Activity Trends, ramps up engagement with locals about these winged creatures and how to spot them and document their activity. The program seeks to monitor bats in the region and empower participation in community science.

Over this past summer, we offered 10 Bat Activity Trends trainings and meet-ups in seven different locations around our region and online. More than 230 people participated with us to learn about bats and the BAT Program.

Bat Activity Trends meetup at Greenlake, 2022

Overall, we had 176 observations logged by 43 observers. Observers were asked to count “bat passes,” that’s how many times they could see a bat pass by. Since it’s impossible to distinguish and count individual bats when conducting these types of observations, we use “bat passes” as an indicator of bat activity. One interesting result from our observations was that some of the areas where high bat activity was observed are right in the city of Seattle. One hotspot was at Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetland.

Washington state is home to 14 bat species, 10 of which can be found statewide; four occur only in Eastern Washington. All Wash. bats are insectivores, meaning they feed on insects.

Bats are one of the most diverse groups of mammals in the animal kingdom and are essential to our ecosystem as pollinators, seed dispensers and pest controllers. Their nocturnal nature makes them a bit more mysterious than other creatures, and they often don't get the credit they deserve.

Bat populations face many threats around the world, including habitat destruction, wind turbine disruption, climate change and light pollution. In addition, the emergence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in the eastern U.S. in 2006 has killed millions of bats. WNS is a disease caused by a fungus, and it has since been found in Europe and Asia. WNS was first discovered in Washington state in 2016. Scientists are still determining the impacts on Washington bats and the Zoo’s Bat Activity Trends program will help with that effort.

To learn more about bats and the efforts to save the species, visit

Bat Activity Trends meetup at Greenlake, 2022


Share about bats:
One of the biggest steps you can take to help bats is to learn about them and share information with friends and family. Fear and misunderstanding can harm bats, so it’s important to educate everyone about all the good things bats do for us.
Provide a home: You can provide a habitat for bats in your yard by leaving hollow trees and snags standing or installing a bat house. Keep cats indoors and reduce your use of pesticides or other chemicals in your yard. Find out more about creating your own bat house here.
Contribute to research: Get involved with the Bat Activity Trends program and help us learn more about bats in Western Washington.

Wanna get even battier? Visit these websites to explore our local bats and learn what you can do!;;

Just for kids! Check out our bat crafts and more at and be sure to stop by bativities for games, crafts and cool ways to connect with bats.

Celebrate Bat Week with Virtual Content for Teachers
We’ve partnered with our bat experts to build an engaging suite of educational content for teachers and their students for Bat Week 2022! Educators can access all of our batty activities by signing up for a free educator account on our newest resource, Discovery Den.



We asked Maiya Lester, a summer 2022 Doris Duke Conservation Intern, to describe her experience monitoring bats alongside our team. Here is how she describes her internship and her newfound hope for Pacific Northwest bats!

"Part of being an intern as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar is having two summers of experience as an intern. The first summer is working with a graduate student on their research project, while the second summer is an internship of your own choosing into a field you are interested in. Before I began my internship in Seattle, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that my internship would be primarily involving bat education and conservation, but I didn’t know what that would entail. As I spent my entire summer last year doing radio telemetry in the Florida Everglades, it was a complete 180 to be doing outreach and educational work. At first it was a bit daunting since I did not know the first thing about bats, so I felt quite useless trying to educate the public. As the summer went on, however, I learned so much about these animals was eventually able to inform people too!

The most important takeaway from my internship this summer is to have faith in both yourself and others. While looking at the current state of our country, it is often discouraging for those that care about the environment to see it labeled as a topic of least importance. In the face of this reality, I ask myself, “how can I mitigate problems caused by climate change and deforestation? Can I make a change at all, or is it futile?” It is quite easy to feel powerless with these questions in mind.

With the help of my mentor and other incredible individuals I met this summer, I realized that I am not alone in this situation. It was inspiring to see so many people care about bat conservation and other topics like climate change. They were not ecologists, but they still went out of their way to come and learn. While doing education events, bat walks, or webinars, I realized that it was not just a select few humans that cared about the future of our planet. In fact, it seemed like most people cared compared to the ones that did not.

I also learned to have faith in my own knowledge and ability to inspire others. Even though I came into the internship not knowing much about bats, I ended having a vast knowledge of the different types of bats, knowing what threats they are facing, how to help them, and so much more. I can now use this knowledge to educate others and help prevent the spread of White nose syndrome.

From now on, I will try to have more faith in myself and trust that others care just as much as I do about our planet. No change can be made if all of us were to just give up now. By doing all that we can, even if it is something small, we can make a collective difference for the future of our planet. I am so grateful to have had this experience, and am looking forward to continuing my studies with optimism and faith."

Setting up a bat acoustic monitor on Bainbridge Island to collect data for the North American Bat Monitoring Program – left to right: Albert Meerscheidt (Bats Northwest), Maiya Lester, Niki Desautels and Shawn Becker(Bats Northwest/Woodland Park Zoo volunteers), and Katie Remine (Woodland Park Zoo staff).


Bernice Tannenbaum (Bats Northwest) said…
Maiya, it was a pleasure working with you on the Bainbridge Island monitoring last summer. Your enthusiasm for the project and for bats in general was a real plus.