You can buy Halloween bat decorations – plush, plastic or neon – at Target. Or you can spend $ 50…
You can buy Halloween bat decorations – plush, plastic or neon – at Target. Or you can spend $ 50 on a really dead bat from any Etsy, Facebook or eBay seller.
Such ghostly copies are available throughout the year, assembled as strange but strange cute wall hangings, confined inside lanterns, even adorned in the macabra hair clips. They are folded and hung up and down, vampire style or wings spread.
Bats are just a subset of a wide range of taxiderminated oddities that decorate hipster bars and celebrate at curiosities expos in cities across the country. But federal officials say they are more concerned about the deceased bats, as they appear to grow in popularity, especially around Halloween.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, whose inspectors screen imports at the world’s largest international mail facility at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, said it has taken illegal transport of dead bats once or twice a month, as a flatmill trend seemed to take flight in 201
5. That figure doubles in late summer and autumn months leading up to Halloween, said Naimah Aziz, an inspector for fish and wildlife at JFK. A flutter import seized by federal wildlife inspectors at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
“I think the oddity trade is greater than we have realized,” Aziz said. “The only numbers reflected in our information system, as we know, are those who are interdicted. It’s just a drop in the bucket … probably 3 percent of what’s actually coming into the US.”
The flags sent are different species, and they are not much bigger than cell phones, which means that boxes are light, she said. They are usually sent from Indonesia via regular mail, which is a growing method of smuggling some live critters, especially sought after types of scorpions and tusks who can tough out a trip in a box.
The problem with bats is not usually that they are threatened, she said. Aside from flying foxes, most species are not protected under international wildlife treaties or US laws. But displaced transports are usually misspelled and lack import-export permits, Aziz said. Detects a batch of bats in a letter bag, then it usually inspectors to identify the species and if it is not protected, trace the importer to get the paperwork sorted.
“We have a shipment of like 100 bats sitting on our reference table,” said Aziz, and inspectors “waiting for a gentleman to get a license and explain the species.”
There is also another problem: the threat on fatal disease. All flat terminals are also referred to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which requires additional batch import licenses. The CDC says it regulates incoming bats, as they are potential reservoirs for infectious diseases, including rabies and Ebola. It is required that the dead flutes are “treated properly” to make them safe, either with high heat, formaldehyde or other approved method.
Virus like rabies and ebola “can not survive for a long time outside the host, but can survive longer in a dead animal,” says Brian Amman, an ecologist with the CDC’s viral special patch bed, in an email. “While the likelihood is low that something like Ebola would be transmitted via an imported pectoral body, there is also a small chance of a potentially fatal disease too much.”
How do the dead bats die? It’s unclear, said Aziz; cause of death is not mandatory information also for legally imported bats – about 9000 come to the United States each year, according to a Newsweek survey, which cited federal numbers.
Many online sellers designated their taxidermed bats as “ethically and sustainably retrieved”, and some say they are trapped in nets by farmers whose crops are hurting injuries. Human bat conflict over crops occurs in many countries, and fruit flies are generally killed for that reason in Indonesia, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But the organization says that the animals actually play an important ecological role by pollinating and dispersing plants.
“How they are preserved reduces my thoughts on how they are caught. They are not broken at all. They are quite caught and probably treated,” Aziz said about the shipment found at JFK, whose number, she added, alert her. “The amount I see must be impressive for the species.”