MANITOWISH WATERS - Bats are one of many mammals that will wake from hibernation in a few weeks.
At a seminar in Vilas County Saturday, people curious about the creature learned they sometimes need human help to survive. Afterward, they built bat roosts at the North Lakeland Discovery Center to give those animals a place to live.
Discovery Center Education Director Licia Johnson says not enough people are educated on how important bats are to the economy and environment.
"It saves the state of Wisconsin about $600 million a year in pesticide use, just on the fact that these bats are eating all these insects," said Johnson.
According to Johnson, bats face a number of threats. In fact, the most common bats in Wisconsin are considered threatened species.
In a state park near Madison, the bat population dropped from 200 to 20 in a recent survey.
Along with habitat destruction, an illness called "white nose disease" has affected bats in the state since 2014.
"It's a fungus that affects hibernating bats, they wake up in the wintertime, they fly around, they use up all the energy they had stored for winter hibernation and they literally drop dead of starvation," said Johnson.
To help the bat population, Johnson suggests people build bat roosts or plant gardens that attracts the bugs bats like to eat.
In Wisconsin, it's illegal to remove bats from your home from May to August.