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International Bat Week takes place week leading up to Halloween

UB PhD candidate Jonathan Townsend spoke about the importance of the animal leading up to the week to raise awareness of bats.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Did you know the week leading up to Halloween is International Bat Week?The annual celebration of the bats role in nature kicks off Monday.

The Department of Conservation says they are critical in controlling pests and bugs, but their populations are declining.

"Bats play an important role in our environment, helping control insect populations," Commissioner Seggos said. "With Halloween on people's minds, DEC is urging outdoor adventurers to protect New York's bats by avoiding caves and mines altogether. Even the quietest cave visits will disturb bats hunkering down for the winter."

Locally, it's because of a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome.

Experts say education is vital to make sure they survive in our region.

"We victimize these groups of animals at our own peril, because we really need to be more concerned about a world without bats or a world with diminished bat populations than we actually need to be scared of bats themselves," Jonathan Townsend, a PhD candidate at the University at Buffalo said.

This time of year bats gather in underground caves or mines to hibernate through winter.

The DEC is asking hikers to avoid those areas if possible.

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