There’s a Bat in my House!

little brown bat
A little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), held by a biologist. (US Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

Question: Late one night recently, a bat flew into my house through an open window! I was sitting at the table and it flew right at me with its huge webbed wings. I swear it looked like it was in full in attack mode. I hid in another room for a while, and then opened the door to find it hanging upside down from the smoke detector. Eventually we caught it with a dustpan and a broom and let it go. I like bats, but not in my house. Please tell me this aggressive behavior doesn’t mean it was rabid! (Rebecca M., Davis)

Answer: You certainly had an interesting encounter! While it’s possible the bat’s apparently aggressive behavior could have been caused by rabies infection, it’s far more likely the bat was simply disoriented from entering your home, encountering bright lights (and you!) and could not easily find an exit. The prevalence of rabies in bat populations is generally quite low (typically lower than in other wild animals that are carriers of the disease, such as gray foxes, striped skunks and raccoons).

When a bat enters a home or other building, it’s best to stay calm, move deliberately, and open more windows and doors leading to the outside. The bat will eventually use its echolocation ability to find an exit. If the bat is obviously sick and unable to fly, do not pick it up with your bare hands! It is best to use tongs or other means to place it in a container. Contact your local public health department and request they test it for rabies.

One other possible cause of sickness in bats is the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS recently arrived on the West Coast in Washington state and has killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada. The disease affects hibernating bats, causing them to wake up in the winter and burn energy reserves needed to sustain them through the cold season when their insect prey is unavailable. So, if you see a sick or weak, emaciated bat in winter that is unable to fly, please notify the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at its “Report a Sick Bat” webpage for possible follow-up, in addition to your local public health department. Such reports are an important part of our efforts to understand WNS and its impacts on bat populations.

Trading a sport-caught fish

Question: I know I can’t sell a salmon if I catch it with my normal fishing license but is it technically illegal to trade something for it? (Rich, Oroville)

Answer: California Fish and Game Code (FGC), section 7121 states that it is unlawful to sell or purchase any fish or amphibia taken in, or brought into, the waters of the state, or brought ashore at any point in the state. There are exceptions for those who fish under the authority of a commercial fishing license and those who purchase fish from the commercial fishing industry, commercial vendors, grocery stores, etc. If you caught your salmon with a recreational fishing license you are not in the commercial fishing category and you cannot sell your fish. You also cannot trade something for your fish. The definition of “sell” per FGC, section 75, includes to offer or possess for sale, barter, exchange or trade. And to close the loop, it would be unlawful to “buy” recreationally caught fish. FGC, section 24, defines “buy” as an offer to buy, purchase, barter, exchange or trade.

Fishing license for a disabled veteran

Question: How much does it cost for a 100 percent disabled vet to fish? What documents are needed to obtain the license? (Stephanie)

Answer: CDFW sincerely appreciates the sacrifices our veterans have made in service to our country and we crafted a process to make it possible for disabled veterans to purchase a fishing license at a significantly reduced rate. An annual Disabled Veteran Sport Fishing license costs $7.56 if you purchase from a license agent or online, or $7.21 if you purchase directly from a CDFW office. They are available to any honorably discharged veteran with a disability rating of 50 percent or greater. To prequalify, you will need to submit a letter from the Veteran’s Administration documenting your honorable discharge and service-connected disability rating. You can submit a photocopy of this document by mail or in person to any CDFW license sales office, by fax at (916) 419-7585, or by secure document upload. To upload documentation, please send a request to and follow the link provided in the response.

In addition to your eligibility documentation, you will need to provide your driver license, GO ID number (if you do not have one, you can create your customer record online first), telephone number and email address. After your eligibility has been verified, your customer record will be updated and you can purchase a Disabled Veteran Sport Fishing License anywhere licenses are sold, but CDFW recommends buying online for convenience.