BAR HARBOR, Maine — Bats are often thought of as scary, dirty and disease-ridden, but they are lovely and fascinating to Ann Rivers.
The 62-year-old Rivers runs Acadia Wildlife Center, one of two full-time state-licensed facilities in Maine that rehabilitates many kinds of wild animal but specializes in saving bats. She nurses about 50 ailing bats annually brought to her by game wardens and anybody else who finds them.
The rehabilitation is an important part of maintaining a vital species, she said.
Notice an increase in mosquitoes? Bat deaths have contributed to it, Rivers said. Two species once common to Maine, the little brown and northern long-eared, are now endangered. A third, the Eastern small-footed bat, is on a state threatened-species list.
“Bats as a group eat billions of mosquitoes and agricultural pests. A single bat can eat 500 mosquitoes in an hour. That means that they are among nature’s foremost defenses against the spread of disease,” Rivers said Friday.