You Want Me To Do What?!!? You Must Be Batty!!
It's always a hard thing to look yourself in the mirror and admit to prejudice and bias, but I'm afraid that is what I must do. In this day of inclusion, it is so difficult to have to admit that there is a group that I just don't like to be around. But, I must confess now. I'm Bataphobic. Sorry, just not a fan.
I'm not sure how this all got started, maybe it's a Dracula or a Twilight (go team Jacob!) thing. But if there are bats around, I'm likely heading for the door. That's why I probably won't be attending and upcoming event being presented by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. They want me to go hang out with bats.
Because I'm trying my best to overcome my bias, and because there are bat fanatics out there, let me give you the details. Utah’s greatest diversity of bat species is found in the southern part of the state, and the DWR is inviting the public to a bat viewing event.
DWR biologists conduct surveys to learn more about the different species, where they are located and how their populations are doing. During these surveys, biologists use special nets — often placed near water or the mouth of a cave — to catch bats as they swoop down to eat
insects. The biologists then quickly detangle the bats from the nets, identify the species, gather other health information and then release the bats back into the wild. At the upcoming event, members of the public will have the opportunity to take a close look at the bats before they are released.
It will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 7-10 p.m. at Mammoth Cave in Kane County. While participants won’t be able to handle the bats, they will still be required to wear an N95 mask when within 6 feet of the bats to help protect the bats’ health. Masks will be provided or participants can bring their own. Participants are also encouraged to bring a small flashlight or headlamp because it will be very dark.
It's possible that my hostility towards bats comes from the conception that bats evoke a sense of creepiness because of their appearance. With their leathery wings, sharp teeth, and beady eyes, they deviate from the more familiar forms of animals that people commonly encounter. Their nocturnal habits also contribute to their eerie image, as they emerge from their roosts at night, a time traditionally associated with fear and uncertainty.
Additionally, the myths and misconceptions surrounding bats play a role in their unsettling reputation. Throughout history, bats have often been linked to vampires and other supernatural creatures in various cultures. This association has fueled the idea that bats are carriers of disease or evil, further deepening the sense of creepiness. Think team Edward.
But, trying to put my bias aside, it's important to recognize that these perceptions are largely based on misunderstandings. Bats, as a group, play crucial ecological roles. They are voracious insect eaters, helping to control populations of pests like mosquitoes, which can carry diseases. Bats also aid in pollination, contributing to the health of ecosystems and even the production of certain crops.
Bats themselves are diverse, ranging from the tiny bumblebee bat to the imposing flying foxes. Many species are harmless and contribute positively to their ecosystems. Some even exhibit intriguing behaviors, like echolocation, which allows them to navigate in complete darkness.
Admittedly, bats play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature, and their contributions should not be overshadowed by misguided fear. Education about their true significance can help dispel the notion of bats as inherently creepy and encourage a more accurate understanding of these fascinating creatures. I'm working on it.
The DWR hopes to see you at Mammoth cave this next Tuesday. The event is free, but they recommend registering in advance on Eventbrite.