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Future bat biologists check out cave life at the second annual Bat Week Celebration at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Jill Utrup/USFWS.

Future bat biologists check out cave life at the second annual Bat Week Celebration at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Jill Utrup/USFWS.

A young bat enthusiast enjoys the Bat Week Celebration at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Reuge.  Photo by Deborah Koenigs/USFWS.
A young bat enthusiast enjoys the Bat Week Celebration at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Reuge.  Photo by Deborah Koenigs/USFWS.

To the bat cave! Celebrating Bat Week at
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

While bats are often associated with Halloween because they are considered scary or creepy, these furry, winged creatures are actually gentle, fascinating and vital to the health of our environment and economy.  During Bat Week this year (October 24-31, 2016) the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge hosted its second annual Bat Week celebration on October 29. Participants found out more about bats, why they need our help - right now more than ever - and how they could help these indispensable critters by building their own bat house or planting native seed on the refuge.

Service partners (Minnesota Valley, Twin Cities Field Office and Regional Office Ecological Services) and the Minnesota DNR made this a fun-filled day for visitors of all ages.  The Minnesota DNR joined us to show folks their cool bat survey equipment, including telemetry equipment and mist-nets used for locating bats over the summer months.  There was also a local Boy Scout Pack on hand to assist with bat house construction.  More than 400 visitors attended the event and had the opportunity to make a bat house to take home. Bats use these houses during spring and summer to raise their young.  We had 150 bat house kits available for people to assemble, with the refuge donating 100 of the bat house kits.  A local citizen who read about our Bat Week event at the refuge last year and was inspired to help out donated another 50 kits.

New to the event this year was a bat cave for kids of all ages to explore and try their hand at being a “Junior Bat Biologist.”  Kids counted all the hibernating bats they found along with other cave animals.  It was a big hit- with many exploring the cave many, many times!  Also, we had bat trivia, a mist-net and bat survey technology station, many batty crafts, face painting, bat chats, bat storybook time and native plant seeding for bat habitat on the refuge.

During Bat Week, we had the opportunity to talk about bats to a wide audience. A local TV station, KARE 11 interviewed Jill Utrup , Twin Cities Field Office biologist, about bats and previewed our even; the story aired multiple times leading up to the event.  Local newspapers, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, also previewed Bat Week activities at the refuge.  Bat Week gave us a great opportunity to talk with folks about bats, dispel myths, rave about their insect-eating capabilities, and encourage people to help conserve bats.  This event not only provided information about bats, but also highlighted the refuge’s presence.   Several visitors remarked that, although they either lived or worked nearby the refuge, they had never visited until this event.

Jill Utrup
Twin Cities Ecological Services Field Office
 
Kim Mitchell
Ecological Services- Regional Office
 
Judy Geck
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

 

Last updated: June 8, 2020