Have you heard of White-Nose Syndrome? It is a fungus that bats are getting during hibernation, and it is killing them. Ohio alone has lost thousands of bats and the numbers keep increasing. Researchers, scientists, and wildlife experts are working hard to find the cause, how to stop it from spreading, and a cure for infected bats. Right now, bats are dying in droves. If a cave is lucky, 10 – 20% of its bat inhabitants will fly out in spring. But generally, none survive.
Currently, it is being hypothesized that European cavers brought the spores over and the bats overseas are immune. It makes sense because the spores had to come from somewhere…just where, they don’t know for sure. The fungus spores cannot be killed by washing alone – clothing , shoes, backpacks, etc. need to be treated to actually kill the spores. Cavers, I have bad news. Many caves and old mines in Ohio, especially Southern Ohio counties are closed to the public. Hopefully this will only last a short time and our bats can start repopulating, but for now, we need to educate ourselves and respect the signs! For more information, go here: White-Nose Syndrome.org.
Okay, okay, why this lesson on bats? Well, I learned all of this from a talk given at the Ohio Wildlife Center in Powell, OH. The second Sundays of the month from 12p – 4p the center is open to the public, and many times they will have educational talks such as the one I mentioned, but primarily it is a great place to take the kids. They had a craft and games to play that centered around learning about wildlife and how to live in harmony with our woodland friends. Ohio Wildlife Center also houses animals that are being rehabilitated on site, and they are awesome to see. My favorite was a one-eyed Great Horned Owl. We also got to meet Phoenix, a Red-tailed hawk – she was amazing and not at all shy.
Ohio Wildlife Center hosts tours and birthday parties, call them for details. They also offer programs for schools, groups, and organizations on site and can accommodate small group retreats (think about this if you are doing a team building event at work!).
*Be sure to check out their site for information on what to do with a sick or injured animal or if you need an animal removed.*
Plan your visit:
- Call ahead if you want to schedule a group outing or for more information on second Sundays.
- I would plan to carry baby. A stroller would be too cumbersome.
- Bring water and snacks for after. Please do not eat on site unless it is part of your plan (like a birthday party). There are tons of animals around and they should not be fed goldfish crackers.
- Ask questions – everyone there is very knowledgeable and friendly.
- Great time to teach children how to respect animals and nature.
- El Vaquero and a few other restaurants are just a couple of miles South of the center if you want to stop for lunch or early dinner.