U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Proceedings, 29th Vertebrate Pest Conference (D. M. Woods, Ed.) Paper No. 12. Published August 28, 2020. 4 pp.


The common vampire bat apparently is expanding its range northwards in Mexico and seems poised to enter the southern United States. Climate models predict suitable habitat in the U.S. in south Texas and parts of southern Arizona. While vampire bats’ northward range expansion is not unexpected, the fact that this species brings a strain of rabies that impacts livestock and people warrants a strategic response. Annual economic damages from bats are estimated between $7M and $9M, largely associated with deaths of livestock from rabies. To prepare for the emerging rabies issue, USDA Wildlife Services programs in Texas and Arizona have begun training employees to recognize symptoms and respond to bat presence. Surveillance of livestock at sale barns and on ranches is designed to maximize the opportunity to detect bat bites in livestock. Outreach on the issue, via one-on-one training and a DVD handout to landowners along both sides of the border, has been initiated. This paper details the extent of preparations for an emerging disease; quantifies expenditures necessary for a responsive program; and discusses some issues associated with the proximity of vampire bats to the U.S.-Mexico border.