After seeing my friend Heidi's post on bats today I was inspired to finally post this Hoary Bat picture I took about a month ago. This beautiful little guy had sadly been injured during a severe storm the night before and was found and brought to us hoping he could be rehabilitated (sadly no, his wing was far to shattered and he seemed to be in a lot of pain so he was humanely put down).
It did however remind me of the plight that faces bats around the world. These interesting and beautiful creatures are one of the truly great products of millions of years of evolution, the only flying mammals! They are among the most specious and diverse of all the groups of mammals, with forms most varied and interesting.
I've been interested in bats for about as long as birds. My hometown, Iron Mountain, MI has what is probably the largest bat hibernaculom in the midwest (actually located only about a quarter of a mile from the house where I grew up).
This site discovered only during my childhood, led to an in-town battle over whether the hibernaculom which is located in an abandoned Iron Ore mine, should be saved, or whether the town should go through with a plan to fill-in the mine due to concerns about safety.
This led the founder of Bat Conservation International, Merlin Tuttle
to come to Iron Mountain during a series of visits where he spoke at the town library about the importance of bats in the ecosystem and why bats needed to be saved. In a rare instance of wildlife winning a battle like this, it was decided that the hibernaculom would be saved, and made into an ecotourism site! As a young nature nerd, I was delighted (I was also delighted to meet Merlin Tuttle, I brought along several National Geographics he had written bat articles in to get autographed) and inspired to continue down a biologists path.
Bats may have won this one little battle, but unfortunately they continue to lose the war. Bats are still hated and feared by many people. So it is difficult to muster up the kind of conservation support that animals like Pandas, Whales and other charismatic species enjoy because of this stigma. But bats face countless problems and there are quite a few bat species on the Endangered Species list, and many more knocking on that door. Habitat loss, wind farms, persecution, and disease are just some of the issues facing bats today.
Please visit the Bat Conservation International Website to learn more about these beautiful, interesting and declining creatures.