The Beauty of Bats, as well as current diseases that are decimating the local population of the creature, will be the topic of discussion during an Oct. 28 presentation by Pfeiffer Nature Center.
The 90-minute program is slated to begin at 10 a.m. at Portville Free Library at 1 North Main St. in Portville. The event is free for Pfeiffer members, $5 for nonmembers and free for children 13 and under. Minors must be accompanied by an adult, however. The program will be presented by veterinarian Dr. Karen Moran and Beverly Jones, nature program coordinator at Pfeiffer.
“I am really excited to be presenting this program with wildlife veterinarian Dr. Karen Moran, who specializes in the rehabilitation of bats,” Jones said. “Karen has a lot of firsthand experience working with these unique creatures. Bats are truly fascinating.”
She noted that while bats rank very high on the list of most disliked species, they are also greatly misunderstood. Furthermore, she said bats are not the “creepy, scary and vicious animals they are sometimes made out to be” and instead can be quite interesting.
“For example, there are tiny bats called bumblebee bats that have a wingspan of only 6 inches,” Jones said. “And then there are giant bats called flying foxes that have wingspans of almost 6 feet. I really think people will be amazed to learn more about these remarkable animals.”
Jones said she and Moran will be joined in the presentation by anthrozoologist Veronica Serwacki who will share ways the community can help bats. Serwacki will also lead the group in a craft that participants can take home to support the bats in their yards.
Jones noted the bat population is in need of support as their numbers have declined in recent years. She said Moran will discuss the fungal disease, White-Nose Syndrome, which is extremely deadly to bats, as well as the West Nile virus illness suffered by the animal.
“It’s largely affecting cave dwelling and tree dwelling bats” in huge numbers, Jones said of White-Nose Syndrome, named for the white fungus that appears on the bat's nose.
Moran said she will elaborate on White-Nose Syndrome and explain how it has become such a huge killer of bats.
“It is one of the worst epidemics in all of wildlife in North America,” Moran remarked. “Six million to seven million have died so far and it’s spreading.”
She said the disease started in one cave in New York state in 2006 and has been spreading ever since.
“It’s really an awful, awful thing,” Moran continued. “In New York state, the little brown bat was the most numerous and now they could likely be endangered.”
She said disease is spreading westward, as a diseased bat has made it over the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast.
“It’s also spreading up into Canada, down into the Southern states and now it’s at the Mississippi River,” she added. “It’s just going from cave to cave.”
Moran said she will also discuss how the disease is impacting the environment.
“When you lose that many bats, there will be a lot more bugs around,” she lamented. “Then people are going to start spraying things and they’re going to poison things that they need to eat to live on … it’s an evil cycle.”
On the upside, Moran will share the importance of placing bat houses on properties to help the animal survive - and hopefully thrive.
“If you’re close to an area where there are a lot of bats, and you put it in the right place and construct it property, hopefully you can get some bats in there,” she concluded.
Participants are asked to register by 4 p.m. Oct. 26 on the programs calendar on Pfeiffer’s website at www.pfeiffernaturecenter.org or contact the office at 933-0187.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter,OTHKate)