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BCI Celebrates 20th
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C O N S E R V A T I O N
BCI Celebrates 20th Anniversary
by Anne Bynon,
Master Gardener Intern
Bat Conservation International was founded 20 years ago to protect and restore bats and their habitats worldwide.
BCI sponsored a special camp this past May at the Southwestern
Research Station near Portal, Arizona in the Chiricahua Mountains. Thirty participants
from 15 U. S. states and two foreign countries (Mexico and Indonesia) attended the course. The site
was selected based on the abundant bat population that is attracted to the
many rocky crags in the area. Despite current drought conditions, a nearby
creek supplies plentiful water.
More than 1,100 individual bats representing 19 species were identified. The researchers found a soft spot in their
hearts for the docile Mexican freetailed bats, Tadarida brasiliensis, who were "a pleasure to remove from nets,
and rather easy to identify," according to Janet Tyburec, BCI's Director of Education. The bats were humanely
trapped in a harp-trap constructed of two planes of parallel wires attached to
a V-shaped fabric sling, into which the bats fell. The bats were then identified, photographed, tagged and released.
The week of research culminated in observing nectar-feeding bats at a hummingbird station using night vision
goggles. If you are interested in seeing photos of the research activities or learning more about bat conservation,
go to www. batcon.org.
Arizona is home to 27 bat species that include the following interesting characteristics:
Leaf-nosed Bats (family Phyllostomidae or American leaf-nosed bats) - large bats, found primarily in the southern
part of Arizona.
Furry-tailed Bats (family Vespertilionidae or evening bats) - thick fur, with fur on their tail membrane, solitary
Big-eared Bats (family Vespertilionidaeor evening bats) - very large ears, medium in size, and in general
have echolocation calls lower in frequency than other bats.
Free-tailed Bats (family Molossidaeor free-tailed bats) - have a tail that extends beyond the tail membrane,
short grayish fur, rounded ears, and narrow wings. They are colonial roosters, usually found in very large colonies such as
the Mexican freetailed colony found at Carlsbad Caverns.
Small Brown Bats (family Vespertilionidae or evening bats) - largest and probably most common
group of bats found in Arizona, small brown bats which are primarily of the Myotis species, insectivorous, and
probably play a major role in insect control in the various environments in which they live.
If you would like to attract bats to your back yard to control insects or to pollinate your garden, BCI provides a
brochure on how to build bat houses. You can find it on their website. For more information on the bats of
Arizona, refer to the Special Heritage Edition of the Arizona Wildlife Views (August 1993), a n d "America's
Neighborhood Bats" by Merlin Tuttle (1988).
One final note: They say if you can't lick 'em, you might as well join 'em. This must be what BCI's founder and
president Merlin Tuttle was thinking when he provided the United States Post Office with stamp-sized bat photos.
The USPO selected these photos as this year's commemorative stamp with
special appeal to young people. A dedication ceremony for the new stamps
was held at Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge, where each night from spring to
fall 1.5 million bats fly from their roosts to eliminate 30,000 pounds of insects.
The American Bat Stamps were made available September 14.
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated January 25, 2003
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to Maricopafirstname.lastname@example.org 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092