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Bats restore the prairie at Midewin

10/21/2020, 12:59 p.m.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that bats contribute approximately $53 billion annually in pest control around the world. ...

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that bats contribute approximately $53 billion annually in pest control around the world. At the USDA Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, where agriculture is one of the four main purposes for the land identified by the Illinois Land Conservation Act, bats are a vital part of the prairie restoration process.

On Thursday, October 29, 7 to 8 p.m., Midewin NTP Visitor Information Specialist Laura Lewis will help de-mystify some of the suspicions about bats and explain why it is important to “go to bat” for them. Lewis will reveal which two of the 12 bat species in Illinois are the most commonly seen at Midewin NTP. She will explain how bats are essential in prairie restoration.

Lewis has been studying nature and wildlife for as long as she can remember. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“I love to explore nature, observe wildlife and teach others,” Lewis said. “Of all the creatures of nature in our area, bats tend to get an especially bad rap. I am hoping that people will participate in the National Bat Week webinar so they can not only learn more about bats, and by learning more can also help to dispel some of those bat myths that just simply are not true.”

If you see a bat, avoid any physical contact. In general, bats tend to be typically gentle by nature, however it is when someone attempts to pick up a bat that a problem can be created. The safest approach is to steer clear.

Learn more about the importance and bats and bat safety precautions: To register for the Midewin NTP National Bat Week program, email: SM.FS.Midewin_RSVP@usda.gov or call: (815) 423-6370.