Defending the Bats of the Columbia Gorge this Halloween

They may have a creepy reputation.  But as Halloween is upon us, are we misunderstanding the bat?

We found out why the flying animals have friends in our area.

The furry, fly by night animals are often at the root of Halloween myth and legend:

 Melissa Gonzales with the conservation group,  Friends of the Gorge calls them, “Misunderstood, under-appreciated creatures.”

She defends bats’ honor: “Though often feared as sinister blood sucking creatures of the night, bats are vital to the health of our environment and economy.”

She points out bats pollinate more than 300 types of fruit that we eat, like bananas and mangoes.

She says, “Not only is the bat a symbol for Halloween,  they are also known as the farmers of  the tropics.”

So this Halloween weekend, the conservation group Friends of the Gorge, is coming to bats’ defense.  They explain the Columbia Gorge is home to 13 bat species. 

Frances Fischer, Friends’ land trust coordinator said, “I’m in a cave because I’m so excited to talk about bats.  I really love bats. They’re super cute.  We really don’t want to harm them.”

Carly Wickem’s a biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

“Bats are not only an important part of the ecosystem, but they also feed on insects that are pests of the agricultural industry.  So it’s estimated that just in the United States,  they save farmers billions of dollars on pest management”   

So Friends of the Gorge say,  instead of being spooked about flying animals with blood sucking abilities, we should be thankful they actually feast on mosquitoes that spread diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus to humans. 

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