Our mission: inspiring bat conservation worldwide
Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation (MTBC) is Dr. Tuttle’s most recent contribution to the world of bats. With over 60 years of experience studying and photographing them, he has led conservation efforts internationally for decades. It was through the global impact of his unique photography and communication that people first began to appreciate bats as safe, invaluable, even cute, and likable. He founded and led Bat Conservation International for 30 years, then retired. But requests for his unique photos and experience followed him, leading to the founding of MTBC. His efforts are now supported solely through MTBC. Our goal is to extend Merlin’s invaluable legacy for use by future conservationists wherever most needed. No one has better demonstrated the power of combining captivating photos with sound science to win friends instead of battles. Nor has anyone better demonstrated how conservation, even of traditionally feared animals, can benefit humans.
The Current Problem
Bats comprise one-fifth of the world’s mammal species and are globally essential to environmental health. Nevertheless, they are in alarming decline. In the U.S. and Canada, millions are dying from an introduced fungus. And millions more die annually in the U.S. alone from careless use of wind turbines. Worldwide, countless bats are lost due to cave disturbance and destruction, and some have even become extinct due to overharvesting. Like all life on earth, bats are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and climate change. However, unlike most animals, they are easily misunderstood and victimized by exaggerated disease speculation, leading to deliberate eradication campaigns with disastrous consequences. Because most bats rear just one pup per year and live in large colonies, they are especially vulnerable to extinction.
Why We Must Act Now
Bats are the primary controllers of vast numbers of night-flying insects. Single colonies can consume tons of crop pests nightly, and they pollinate and carry seeds for many of our planet’s most important plants. If bat decline is not reversed, we could face dire consequences such as billions of dollars of agricultural and forestry losses in single countries, dramatically increased reliance on pesticides that can cause cancer and dementia, increased threats from mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile and Malaria, and loss of billion-dollar-a-year crops for lack of bat pollinators.
Hope For The Future
Merlin has repeatedly demonstrated the power of education. His successes on behalf of traditionally misunderstood and persecuted bats are unprecedented, providing a model of hope for the future. His work and legacy have never been more important. We provide clear, science-based explanations to dispel fear and help people benefit from conserving bats. Once people understand the value of bats, most voluntarily become enthusiastic protectors. When thousands of bats began moving into newly created crevices beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, misinformed health officials warned they were mostly rabid and dangerous. Fearful citizens began signing petitions to have the bats eradicated. But when Merlin put fears in perspective and explained bat values, the bats were protected. Today, 1.5 million are enthusiastically welcomed. They attract millions of tourist dollars each summer, consume tons of insect pests nightly, and have harmed no one. Austin is now proud of its bat-friendly fame.