If you are among the many people who are curious about, or fascinated by, bats — the night flying kind of bats, that is — there’s an opportunity next month to meet some of the flying mammals up close at the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
Bat Night at the Moapa Valley NWR is slated for Saturday, August 4 from 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. (PDT). Nevada Department of Wildlife Biologist Jason Williams will be trapping bats for the event. Williams conducted a two-year bat survey in the upper Muddy River area in 2000 and 2001.
As darkness falls, participants will get a first-hand look at harp traps and other equipment used in bat research, view displays about bat acoustics, and hear about the natural history of bats. Shortly thereafter, groups will periodically visit traps set out along the refuge stream to retrieve bats by placing them in cloth bags and carrying them to the parking area. Everyone can see and photograph the bats before they are released back to the wild. Participants are urged to bring their cameras.
More than a dozen different species of bats have been captured, studied, and released at the refuge. While nobody can predict which kinds of bats will be caught that evening, likely candidates include the Western pipistrelle bat (the smallest bat species in North America), the Pallid bat (one of the worst smelling bats, with a definite musty odor), and the Yellow bat (which lives in the crowns of palm trees on the refuge).
Bat Night is a special program for the public, since the Moapa Valley NWR is closed during the summer. The refuge is typically open to the public, sunrise to sunset, from Labor Day until Memorial Day each year.
Located at 4001 W. Warm Springs Road in Moapa, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the Moapa Valley NWR was established in 1979 to secure habitat for and protect the endangered Moapa dace.