Some folks see them as creepy things with webbed wings, pointy teeth and sharp claws. What’s worse is that they have furry bodies of seemingly unkempt hair.
However, to the informed they are critically-important flying mammals who help to keep our natural ecology in balance. Without bats, the bugs of summer would be unbearable and the impact of pests on agriculture would be immeasurable. The really sad part of the bat story is that they’re dying by the millions. Seven million, to date, to be exact.
For the child who doesn’t want to left inside this summer, partnering with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s biologists with bat monitoring efforts might be a perfect activity as we move through these "dog days" of summer.
The idea behind this effort is to collect bat maternity colony data for the remainder of the summer. This monitoring is important because it will help bat biologists to better understand the mortalities caused by White-Nose Syndrome.
According to game commission wildlife biologist Nate Zalik, "White-Nose Syndrome primarily kills during the winter, but the true impact of this dreaded disease on Pennsylvania’s bat populations cannot be determined using estimates from winter hibernacula alone." He added that, "Pennsylvanians of all ages can help us to more fully gauge the impact of this syndrome on bats by hosting a bat count this summer."
To obtain a bat count form and to learn more about our friendly, local creatures of the night, please visit the game commission’s website at: www.pgc.state.pa.us. Once you’re on the web page, move your cursor over "Wildlife" and scroll to "Pennsylvania Bats" under the "Wild Mammals" section.
You’ll be able to access lots of interesting information that will guide you through the steps of timing your count, conducting the survey and submitting their findings to the game commission. A bat count would be a good family activity. Certainly Scout groups, 4-H clubs, environmental and sportsmen’s organizations are all encouraged to participate in a surveying effort.