Saturday, September 10 is a day when Connecticut can finally express its admiration for the humble bat. People can flock to see the bats at Old New-Gate Jail and the Copper Mine in East Granby from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Bat Appreciation Day, hosted by the Department of Connecticut Energy and Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.
The special event is free with admission to the historic site.
Saturday is a time to pay homage to bats in one of their natural habitats as they prepare to hibernate for the winter.
What’s not to like about bats? They have inspired superheroes (The Batman, not forgetting Batwoman, Batgirl, Batcow and the Man-Bat), operas (“Die Flederhaus”), horror stories (Dracula) and cartoons. paper airplanes.
They are also an essential part of the ecosystem.
DEEP and DECD have been hosting a Bat Appreciation Day for six years. When COVID hit in 2020, the event took place online – video from this year and other years is at portal.ct.gov. The DEEP website also has information on what to do if you see and find a bat, a section on “Teaching About Bats” for educators and parents and a general”Bats Fact Sheet.”
The event is “a celebration of bat conservation,” according to a statement from DEEP, designed to “help raise awareness of the history of one of Connecticut’s most intriguing historic sites and its importance to the conservation of endangered species”.
There is a National Bat Appreciation Day, but it’s April 17th. Connecticut also honors the day, but started having a separate bat day in September because “it’s a time when we can peek inside caves,” says Jenny Dickson, director of the DEEP Wildlife division. .
Bats like copper mine tunnels, says Dickson, because “in winter, they like stable temperatures. This is what they are looking for during hibernation.
Bat Appreciation Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness that many bat species are currently endangered.
The main threat to bats in Connecticut is white-nose syndrome, first reported in the state in 2006-2007 and responsible for the death of millions of bats in North America. White-nose syndrome has led to more than 90% declines in some bat populations in Connecticut. Some bats, such as the long-eared bat, are listed as “threatened” federally as well as in Connecticut.
“Right now in Connecticut,” says Dickson, “most bats are either ‘threatened,’ ‘endangered,’ or ‘special concern.’ Even one notable exception, the big brown bat, has experienced a 30% decline – a serious problem, but not compared to bat types that have seen two or three times that decline.
Cave bats like the ones seen Saturday in East Granby are “particularly susceptible to disease,” says Dickson.
“I could say nice things about bats all day,” says Dickson, when asked to defend them against the idea that they’re scary and dangerous. “They are one of the most misunderstood animals we have. They are the biggest predator of nocturnal insects. That means they eat insects that might bother you, but they also help prevent crop destruction. can mean that a farmer does not have to spray crops with pesticides as often.
“There are other things they can do for us,” Dickson continues. “They can deal with sudden outbreaks of insects. In other parts of the United States, they even pollinate plants, such as some cacti. People are usually surprised to hear this. They can play important roles beyond insect control.
Another myth that needs to be dispelled, says Dickson, concerns bats that carry rabies. (This is a plot point in Stephen King’s “Cujo” and other horror tales.) In typical environments, “less than one percent of bats have rabies.”
Dickson says Bats’ bad reputation comes from what she calls “Hollywood hype.” In some cultures, bats are considered lucky charms.
“Any chance we may have of explaining that the myths aren’t true is a good thing.”
Positive cultural images of small winged creatures around the world include “beautiful depictions of bats in Native American art,” says Dickson, and “as symbols of good fortune in Asian culture.” She also admires the Brian Lies picture books which show fun cartoon communities “Bats at the Library”, “Bats at the Ballgame”, “Bats at the Beach”, and “Bats in the Band”.
Five things you need to know
We provide the latest coronavirus coverage in Connecticut every weekday morning.
Dickson will be present for the festivities on Saturday. She says the day is filled with activity, including talks from “bat care specialists” and advice on how to help bats. Story times (at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.) with readings from bat books have proven popular with adults and children alike, Dickson says. There’s a mine tour, a ‘five senses hike’ with wildlife conservationist Shirley Sutton, a ‘Befriending the Bats’ session where you can meet the bats up close and personal, and “bat craftsmanship”.
For those unable to attend Bat Appreciation Day (or those who prefer to appreciate bats from a distance), several of the day’s activities will be webcast on DEEP’s Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Facebook Page.
Is there a way for the average Connecticut resident to help bats?
“There’s not much any of us can do to control the disease,” says Dickson. “But we can all learn about bats. We can understand their value and realize how important it is to keep them.
In general, says Dickson, “there is no reason to hunt bats. The less we disturb them, the more likely they are to survive.
Bat Appreciation Day will be celebrated September 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Old New-Gate Jail and Coppermine, 115 Newgate Road, East Granby. General admission to the site is $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for youth, and free for children under 5. portal.ct.gov
Christopher Arnott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.