Annual Bat Loco Bash Promotes Environmental Importance of Bats

posted by 1200 WOAI - 

By Morgan Montalvo 

WOAI News

 San  Antonians turned out by the hundreds to see tens of thousands of  Mexican free-tail bats make their nightly departure from inside the  Camden Street Bridge along the San Antonio River’s Museum Reach as part  of the Sixth Annual Bat Loco Bash, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. 

The  annual event brings together conservation and environmental groups to  educate the public about the benefits of bats, says the San Antonio  River Authority’s Yviand Serbones-Hernandez. 

Last  night’s bash featured information tables staffed by groups such as the  National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, San Antonio  Zoo and Bracken Cave Preserve, all of which have experience working with  or studying with the winged mammals. 

Food trucks, live music, a  reproduction 1960s Batmobile and children’s learning stations added to  the event’s family-friendly atmosphere. 

At  the San Antonio Zoo exhibit, exhibit specialist Rubi Jaimes informed  visitors about White nose syndrome, an infectious disease linked to bat  colony collapse. 

“We’re teaching kids, like, how they can identify it in the bat  populations and some of the colonies,” Jaimes said, “and, if they want  to, when they grow up they can actually be, like, one of the scientists  that studies this type of fungus or even the bat populations.” 

Les  Hutchins with the Bracken Cave Preserve just north of San Antonio said  while its become common knowledge that a bat can eat its own weight in  insects each night, most people don’t know the critical roles bats play  in food production.

 “They pollinate, like, cocoa plants, we get chocolate,” Hutchins said,  “wild bananas for our bananas, tequila – we need bats to pollinate agave  cactus for tequila production.”

   Hutchings  said the bat colony that lives within the bridge are mostly males, and  non-reproducing females. 

Because males and non-fertile females cannot  feed offspring during the “pup” stage, he said, adults segregate by  gender or usefulness in order to maximize nursery space.

 “The maternity colony like Bracken Cave is where the mommies and the babies are right now,” Hutchins said. 

Mexican free-tail bats spend winters mating south of the border, then  fly north beginning in March to raise their young. They return to Mexico  beginning in November to start a new breeding cycle.

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