Bat blitz will help researchers gather valuable data next weekend

It’s all about the bats as Five Rivers MetroParks hosts a bat blitz next weekend.

The intensive ecological survey of bat species will be held overnight on August 19 and 20 at Germantown and Twin Creek MetroParks as well as the Upper Twin Conservation Area. The bat blitz is the first of its kind in Ohio.

“The goal of this bat blitz is to collectively gather professionals to accomplish what could otherwise take a single biologist an entire year to do in terms of research,” said Grace Dietsch, MetroParks regional manager of conservation. “Bats are a good indicator of the ecological health of our natural spaces and the data collected during the bat blitz will give us some insight on what is happening in our parks and across the Miami Valley.”

Surveys like this give a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity.

“Bats have several threats to their survival, so we have to get a temperature on the population status,” said Joshua York, MetroParks education coordinator.

Bat populations have been dwindling in recent years due to climate change, habitat loss, disease and pesticide use. Bats are important to natural ecosystems and helpful for insect control.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

According to York, bats have long been creatures of mystery and misconceptions.

“Some people think bats are aggressive and that’s not the case, or that they are flying rodents which also isn’t true,” York said. “This is an opportunity to inform the public about these important creatures and get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a biologist collecting research.”

Using mist nets strategically erected in corridors that bats are likely to travel, researchers will be able to view specimens and collect data including species, size, age, weight, health, and reproductive status. Species that are listed as endangered, such as the Indiana bat, may be banded, and oral swabs or fur clips may be taken for special projects. The surveying process – led by biologists with the Ohio Bat Working Group – is harmless to the bats and they will be released in the same area in which they are collected.

“Surveys of this kind really involve a substantial commitment of time, expertise and materials that are volunteered by researchers, and we couldn’t conduct this bat blitz without these partners,” Dietsch said.

While the bat blitz won’t be open to the public, a virtual program will be available through the Five Rivers MetroParks social media accounts on August 20 at 9 p.m.

“I’m hoping folks tune in to learn about bats and become more aware of the many threats to their survival,” York added.

For more information, visit https://www.metroparks.org/

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