October 24-31 is Bat Week. This is an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature. Bat Week is organized by a team of representatives from conservation organizations and agencies across the United States and Canada, like the USDA Forest Service.
Bats are amazing animals that are vital to the health of our environment and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees.
The bats in our area are all insect eaters. Amazingly, experts found that a pregnant or nursing mother of some bat species will eat their body weight in insects each night. Throughout the United States, scientists estimate bats are worth more than $3.7 billion a year because they help reduce crop damage and pesticide use. Can you imagine a world without bats?
Bats are in decline in many places. Nearly a quarter of all bat species are considered vulnerable to even critically endangered. One of the greatest threats to bats in our area is White-Nose Syndrome. It is caused by a fungus that causes hibernating bats to awaken more often in their caves. The action of waking uses up their fat reserves needed to survive winter. Infected bats often emerge from caves in winter and can freeze or starve to death.
Every one of us can help bats and the most important thing we can do is learn more about bats.
From Oct. 24-31, a team of committed partners are hosting Bat Week – an action-packed week of community activities, signature events, live webinars, media blitzes, and educational resources – all focused on understanding and appreciating bats and the conservation challenges they face. The Forest Service is proud to be a strong partner in Bat Week, along with Bat Conservation International, the Organization for Bat Conservation, and many other groups and agencies.
Educators have an incredible opportunity to easily tap into a treasure-trove of high-quality educational activities and resources to make an important job just a little easier. Please consider using the following resources in the coming week to help create the next generation of bat champions.
Learn all about bats with the Bat Squad, eight amazing kids from across the United States. Webcasts will occur on October 27, and 28, followed by live Twitter sessions with the Bat Squad. Each webcast has an engaging and easy-to-implement conservation education lesson. Bat Squad promises to be a special and compelling education program, especially since kids are talking to kids about how to make a difference for bats. Visit BatWeek.org to learn more.
BatsLIVE is a remarkable distance learning adventure that brings the mystery and wonder of bats to classrooms across the world. First aired live in 2012, all the webcasts, webinars and curricula materials are available through the BatsLIVE website at batslive.pwnet.org.
Project EduBat is a curriculum of exciting, engaging classroom activities – including access to bat education trunks, murals and handouts, and additional resources. If you need a little instruction and inspiration, watch the webcast – Project EduBat: Education Taking Wing. All of these terrific resources can be found at batslive.pwnet.org.
Daniel Jordan, the Potosi-Fredericktown wildlife biologist, presented a special program about bats on Oct. 22 at the Ozark Regional Library in Ironton. Additional presentations about bats can be scheduled in the future by contacting our office.
Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District employees will be on hand at Potosi’s Spookfest on Oct. 31. Smokey Bear will be there and we will be sharing some interesting bat facts with everyone. We will be giving away a bat house to one lucky trick-or-treater.
Make a difference. Be a Bat Champion!
Becky Ewing is the district ranger for the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District