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Contact: Vickie Carson, 270-758-2192
(MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK - August 13, 2012) Saturday, August 25, is Bat Night at Mammoth Cave National Park and around the world. Park staff have scheduled activities during daylight hours, and also at dusk, the prime time for viewing bats.
"We initiated Bat Night last year and it was a very popular activity," said Acting Superintendent Bruce Powell. "Bats are an important part of the park's ecosystem. There are eight species of bats that frequent the park caves, and we have five other species that roost in trees. In the entire world, there are 1,200 species of bats, accounting for one quarter of all mammal species."
"There will be poster sessions during the day on Saturday and a display of fascinating bat information," said Shannon Trimboli, education director of the Mammoth Cave International Center of Science and Learning, who is coordinating the event. "But at dusk, when bats wake up and start flying, we're going to set up monitoring stations with night-vision goggles and acoustic sonograms - come see for yourself."
Day-time activities will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Central Time) at the park visitor center. Posters will be displayed and topics will focus on bat-related research at Mammoth Cave.
Evening activities will begin at the park visitor center at 7:00 p.m. Park staff will present an introduction and orientation to the night's activities every 15 minutes until 8:45 p.m. After their orientation, groups will be able rotate through four stations located between the visitor center and the Historic Entrance. This self-guided portion of the evening will allow visitors to learn about different scientific techniques and equipment used in bat research. Scientists will be available at each station for guidance and questions.
The stations will include:
· Light-trapping of insects, used in studying what bats eat;
· Bat sound recording , used in studying bat calls;
· Thermal imaging, used in studying bat populations; and
· Night vision goggles, used in studying bat populations.
"Sadly, we will also be sharing information about white-nose syndrome in bats," said Powell. "It is a fungus that kills cave-dwelling bats. It was first found in a New York cave in 2006 and has since spread to caves and mines across the eastern states." White-nose syndrome has not been found at Mammoth Cave; it has been found in Kentucky and all adjacent states.
Dr. Merlin Tuttle of Bat Conservation International of Austin, Texas, is the honorary ambassador for the International Year of the Bat. "Simply because they are active only at night and difficult to observe and understand, bats rank among our planet's most misunderstood and intensely persecuted mammals," said Tuttle. "Those that eat insects are primary predators of the vast numbers that fly at night, including ones that cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars in losses annually. As such bats decline, demands for dangerous pesticides grow, as does the cost of growing crops like rice, corn and cotton."
For more information on the International Year of the Bat go to http://www.yearofthebat.org/about-year-of-the-bat/
For more information on International Bat Night go to http://www.yearofthebat.org/events/north-america/