CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Bats are most often affiliated with scary movies and an ever elusive vigilante in a black suit. But the flying mammals are more fragile than the entertainment industry has portrayed. The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center will host Bats of Missouri, Wednesday, April 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to explore and discuss their importance.
“Missouri is home to at least 14 different species of bats,” said Sara Turner, the manager of the nature center. “We’ll learn about the different species, where they live, how common they are and how scientists are researching and monitoring them.”
One of the most important subjects in the program will be current threats to bats. Turner said the real scary story is their current plight.
“Because of human disturbance in caves, a fungus called Whitenose Syndrome has spread among some bats,” Turner said.
White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Scientists believe the fungus is transported from cave to cave on people’s shoes. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far south as Mississippi.
“This disease is detrimental to our bats,” Turner said, adding a reminder that bats help to control agricultural pests and keep insect populations in check. “Bats are very important to the balance of our environment so it’s vital that we learn as much as we can about them and take efforts to protect them from further harm.”
Turner said attending the nature center’s Bats of Missouri program Wednesday could be a first step for those in the community to know more and work toward protecting the bats.
The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located in Cape County Park North near the intersection of Kingshighway and Interstate 55 in Cape Girardeau. A schedule of events and more information about the nature center can be found at mdc.mo.gov/CapeNatureCenter.