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 Meet the bats

There are two free bat-viewing events coming up.

Brent Stettler
Brent is the DWR's conservation outreach manager for southeastern Utah. He loves wildlife and the outdoors and spends his free time exploring the backcountry.

On November 20, 2011, we held a bat watch at the Nash Wash Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The WMA is located at the foot of the South Book Cliffs, between the town of Green River and the Colorado border.

You may see a silver-haired bat, like this one, at this year's Meet the Bats Night.

We selected the November date because of the new moon, which helped conceal the nets from bats. Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind. Although their vision is poorer than most mammals, their ability to echo-locate prey more than compensates for any apparent lack of visual acuity.

Just before dark, biologists strung mist nets in a parallel arrangement across a shallow pond and its surrounding wetland. Once darkness fell, we began to see and hear bat activity above participants, who were seated at the edge of the wetland. The first capture took place at 9:00 p.m.

As bats were captured, biologists carefully untangled each one and brought it to a table where it was measured, weighed and examined. This is when participants were able to see and touch the bats. Biologists then explained species characteristics and peculiarities.

During the course of the night, we caught four canyon bats, two hoary bats, four pallid bats, four Mexican free-tailed bats and one silver-haired bat. The first species to arrive was the canyon bat. As the night progressed, more species visited the wetland. The sampling concluded at 1:00 a.m.

A Mexican free-tailed bat captured and examined at last year's bat-viewing event.

Participants were extremely satisfied with the experience—especially the opportunity to see these mysterious creatures in the flesh. There was also talk of how therapeutic it was to sit in the darkness and watch the stars from lawn chairs.

This year, DWR is hosting two bat-viewing events in July. The first one is coming up on Saturday, July 21, in southeastern Utah. Participation is free, but it does require pre-registration by calling Brent Stettler at 435-613-3707 or 435-636-6731. The other event will be held a few days later, on July 26 at Hogle Zoo. Contact Outreach Manager Scott Root at scottroot@utah.gov or 801-491-5656 for more information on that free event.

Don’t miss out on your chance to see live bats (possibly many different species!) up close.

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