Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bats About Bats

When the Leopard was just a little cub in the scouts, I remember going camping in the Summer. We'd usually go upstate to Bear Mountain, NY.  We'd stay on campgrounds in these rustic little log cabins with bunks lined up inside like an army barracks. We were all so excited to be there that after we'd get off those yellow charter buses after a long, hot, sticky ride we'd run down the hill racing to see who'd get to the cabins first. 
With my skinny long legs, I was always there first, and as I pushed open the rotting wooden screen door, I was greeted full in the face with a leathery bombardment of furry squealing creatures. I fell back on some broken boards lying on the porch, skinning my knee and crying uncontrollably.

I  was hooked.

I read everything there was about bats in the Boy Scout Handbook that trip, in between grilling wieners and singing "Talk Of The Season" around the campfire.  Back home, I bought books about bats, drew pictures of them all over my schoolbooks (I'm sure that Batman being my favorite superhero had something to do with my obsession)and to this day, I still find myself sketching the little critters.
Recently, there have been disturbing reports about bats in this part of the country slowly dying off from a mysterious fungus in the form of a white ring around their noses, which causes them to wake from hibernation too early. this causes afflicted bats to burn through their winter stores of fat before the spring, and they in turn to appear be starving. No one seems to know precisely what the issue is, but it could be part of a bigger problem.

Bats are our pals. They are virtually harmless to humans (despite all that"Twilight" bullshit) and actually eat billions of mosquitoes every year. If they disappear, be sure you're never going to make it through a summer NOT covered with bites. Maybe the lack of predators will introduce a new strain of super mosquitoes, resistant to sprays and rubs.

Besides, they're just about the coolest things flying.

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