Oh, bats!

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Oh, bats!

Postby Cheryl Jones » Jan 31, 2006 7:36 pm

Oh, bats!
Festival celebrates local wildlife

By Trevor Warner - Assistant Managing Editor
(Paradise Post, Paradise, CA)

Somewhere along the line, bats got a bad rap.

It could be Dracula's fault. Or maybe it's the fear of contracting rabies. Whatever it is, people who attended the Snow Goose Festival bat workshop at the Chico Masonic Family Center in Chico learned bats aren't all that bad after all.

Participants were even given the chance to build boxes to attract more bats to their home.

"They eat mosquitoes and Jerusalem crickets and other insects," said Forest Ranch resident Jenny Lewis, who along with her husband, Gary, wanted to use bats as insect control.

The pair was busy hammering away at planks of wood soon to become a bat box. The project took only a few minutes.

"It's very easy," Lewis said. "You could do this with wood around the house."

The boxes were simply two planks of wood nailed together with about 1 inch of space in between.

The bats the average box can hold up to 50 crawl up into the small space and get cozy with each other, said Snow Goose Festival steering committee member Jackie Ferrier.

Ferrier, complete with bat earrings, was on hand to give laymen all the information there is to know on bats.

The Mexican free-tailed bat is the most common in this area, she said, adding the creatures come up here from Mexico for their maternity roost.

She and other volunteers helped the young and old learn how to build bat boxes.

Insect control wasn't the reason Tom Foster from Chico was there.

"A lot of people are afraid of bats, but they are not bad creatures," he said.

Foster said he is a maintenance gardener and he wanted to know more about the creatures, so when his clients asked about them, he would have an answer.

He said he learned there are about 17 different kinds of bats in Northern California and the information offered at the festival will help him identify them.

And as for the fear of rabies, Bat Conservation Inter-national states fewer than 10 people in more than 50 years have contracted rabies from North American bat species that live in bat boxes.

Bats weren't the only attraction of the Snow Goose Festival.

The snakes and reptile exhibit drew a curious crowd of youngsters, who had the opportunity to let the creatures crawl all over them.

Of course, some chose not to.

The festival also provided information on water stewardship and butterfly conservation as well as other interests.

Youngsters were kept entertained with the variety of arts and crafts, which included homemade bird feeders and owl masks.

Paintings of ducks and geese, which will be judged and turned into a stamp design, were also displayed and brightened up the place.

All in all, the weekend was an enjoyable and educational one for folks who love to nurture nature.
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Cheryl Jones
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