Biologists net bats in Scottsdale, debunk myths while public wat -

Biologists net bats in Scottsdale, debunk myths while public watches

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Phoenix bat. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5] Phoenix bat. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5]

Bats are actually very clean animals. They don't like to fly in your hair. And very few – less than one percent – have rabies.

Those are a few of the surprising bat facts biologist Randy Babb shares with me while a team of volunteers sets up nets around the Rio Verde River in north Scottsdale Friday night.

About a half dozen times a year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department collects bats in nets, part of a long-term survey to gather data on the world’s only flying mammals.

For $25 a person, the public is invited to tag along. It’s a chance to get up close with the creatures.

For biologists like Babb, it’s a chance to change perceptions.

“These are incredibly important animals,” he said.

Bats are prolific pest controllers. Just one insect-eating bat can consume about 2,000 to 6,000 insects every night, according to the Organization for Bat Conservation.

For that reason, bats provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit to the agricultural industry, Babb said.

Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, second only to Texas.

After researchers net a bat, they record its size, sex, and species. Participants can snap a few photos. Then, the bat is released, unharmed.

The next surveys are on July 28 and September 15. For more information or to register, click here.

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