News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 9, 2008

Indiana Bat Festival set for Saturday

TERRE HAUTE — For the second year, the Indiana Bat Festival will be staged at Indiana State University.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, free activities, including live bat demonstrations and talks by leading bat biologists, will be staged in the Hulman Memorial Student Union. There will be activities for children, including an inflatable cave.

John Whitaker Jr., director of the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, said bats are an important part of the ecosystem through their food habits.

“Since bats are nocturnal mammals and since there are many falsehoods spread about them, they have a bad reputation from most of society,” Whitaker said. “But bats are important to our society in ways that need to be brought to the forefront in education and environmental conservation.”

The festival is one such means to educate young and old in a fun environment.

Speakers during the event will include Whitaker, Dale Sparks, research scientist at ISU; Al Kurta with Eastern Michigan University; Rob Mies with the Organization for Bat Conservation; and Tim Carter with Ball State University. During Whitaker’s talk, he will address white nose syndrome, which has devastated bat colonies in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Mies will give a demonstration using live bats, including a variety of exotic bats such as one of the large fruit bats.

“Bats of Michigan” by Kurta and “Bats of Indiana” by the ISU Bat Center will be for sale during the day.

After a 6 p.m. barbecue dinner, which costs $6, at Dobbs Park, a Bat Science Night will begin at the park. During the night event, scientists will demonstrate netting, radio-tagging and echolocation of bats.

“At night, with luck from the bats and weather, we will be able to see some of our local bats flying about and feeding and we will be able to hear their echolocation calls,” Whitaker said.

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