Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bat Cave - Cordova Ranger District!

Written by Melissa Gabrielson, wildife biologist

The Bat Cave is an educational event about bats held during Bat Week. This event teaches attendees about the beneficial impacts that bats have on humans and the ecosystem. In addition, it promotes the fact that bat are not "scary," as often depicted, but actually provide things like pest control, fruit pollination (like bananas!), and incredible biodiversity.

This year’s Bat Cave, hosted by the Cordova Ranger District, occurred on Wednesday, October 31, 2018. SCA intern, Haley Smith poses with one of the Bat Cave attendees, Jon Bowman.
A child and an adult in costumes.
Photo by USFS, Kate Mclaughlin
Activities included "The Bat Cave". This once bright office was transformed into a dark cave with hanging bats and was filled with the calls of the little brown bat, Cordova’s most common bat.

Those who entered the cave learned about echolocation, habitats that bats call home, and why bats hang upside down! After traversing through the bat cave there were a variety of other stations to explore.

Those who were hungry could visit the cookie decorating station. Here visitors could decorate their own bat shaped cookie while learning about bats favorite snacks and their importance as insectivores and pollinators.

Exploring the bat cave. Photo by USFS, Kate McLaughlin 
Attendees were surprised that some of their favorite fruits would not be available if bats were not there to pollinate them (such as bananas and mangos).

A coloring station provided attendees the opportunity to unleash their inner creativity. Finished pieces (flying bats) could be taken home or displayed on the wall.

Another creativity station provided supplies for participants to make their own bat ears. Kids learned how bats rely heavily on their ears and reemphasized their use of echolocation.
Decorating a bat cookie. Photo by USFS, Kate McLaughlin. 
If participants wanted a little more of a challenge they could test their hand-eye coordination with bean bag toss. Bean bags sewn to look like bats and moss were thrown into a tree. This station emphasized habitats that are important to bats, as well as places where you can find bats (caves, trees, houses, crevices, mine shafts).

Participants could view “The Secret Life of Bats” video at their leisure.

Once it was time to leave, the final stop was “The Abandoned Mine Shaft”. The elevator was transformed into a dark, bat filled mine shaft that provided the perfect opportunity to teach about the importance of man-made structures to bats, other habitats that are important to bats, as well as white nose syndrome and echolocation.
Forestry Tech Nathan Wesley helps attendee make bat ears.
Photo by USFS, Kate McLaughlin 

Approximately 150 people participated in this year’s event. Thanks to Haley Smith, SCA intern, who coordinated this year’s event. Special thanks to all those who helped make this event a success: Nick Docken (Wildlife Technician), Nathan Wesley (Forestry Technician), Maura Schumacher (Copper River Watershed Volunteer), Kate Mclaughlin (Front Desk Assistant), and Melissa Gabrielson (Wildlife Biologist).
Bat friends. Photo by SCA intern Haley Smith. 

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