AMES, Iowa---Friday, April 13 is the evening to celebrate the “Year of the Bat.” Youngsters and adults can explore Iowa’s incredibly fascinating and delightfully likeable masters of the night skies – bats – from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pioneer Columbus Community Center, 2100 S.E. 5th Street in Des Moines. The Iowa Wildlife Center (IWC), Iowa State University Wildlife Extension, and Des Moines Parks and Recreation have planned an educational, entertaining and family-friendly evening.
Rebecca Christoffel, ISU Wildlife Extension specialist, looks forward to an evening with one of her favorite “unhuggable” wildlife mammals. “There are many crucial benefits bats provide around the world including plant pollination and seed dispersal. But in Iowa, they help by eating insects, including many crop pests.,” said Christoffel. “Researchers are just beginning to discover the dollar value of bats to agriculture and revealing their tremendous benefit.”
The April 13 program, Celebrating and De-mystifying Iowa’s Bats, is being held in conjunction with the Bat Conservation International (BCI) proclaimed Year of the Bat and Bat Awareness and Appreciation Week, April 9-15, 2012. Keynote speaker Russ Benedict, Central College associate professor of biology, will focus on Iowa’s 11 species of insect-eating bats. Educational BCI videos and expert presentations on bat house design and installation, bat exclusion methods, the impact of wind turbines on bats are scheduled.
Children activities lead by Christoffel and Iowa State students will incorporate items from her bag of bat props with bat facts and fun. Children activities will be held throughout the evening – with the presentation of a bat “Rap” at 6:45 p.m.
Other evening highlights include the bats – Velcro, the IWC education bat, and several of Velcro’s friends who are ready for release. Participants will become acquainted with Velcro, and weather permitting, will join IWC's Executive Director Marlene Ehresman as she releases Des Moines-area bats rehabilitated this past winter. A graduate research student, Molly Gillespie, from Iowa State will use a special device to allow attendees to listen to the otherwise inaudible sounds the bats will make as they are released.
“What better way to enjoy a Friday the 13th evening than with bats?” asked Christoffel. “This program has it all – bats, games, education, fun and food. It’s a wonderful way to introduce people to Iowa’s flying mammals and help them build an appreciation for bats.”
For more information about the program, call the Iowa Wildlife Center at 515-233-1379. To learn more about bats, explore BCI’s website at http://www.batcon.org/.
PHOTO: Brown Bats