How To Celebrate Bat Week In Arizona

Published: Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 10:54am
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 12:38pm

(Photo by Randall D. Babb - Arizona Game and Fish Department)
The Yuma myotis species is likely one of the myotis species that frequents the bat roost at 24th Street and Camelback Road.

Just in time for Halloween, the state’s wildlife agency is celebrating Bat Week for the third year in a row.

Conservation and government groups from around the United States and Canada celebrate Bat Week each October to promote conservation.

Last year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asked people to build bat houses where the furry mammals can roost. Typically, bats migrate south during the winter, so their stay in Arizona ends soon.

“There are more and more ways for people to get involved,” said Angie McIntire, bat management coordinator at Game and Fish. “This year we’re asking people to pull invasive weeds for bats.”

Arizona is home to 28 different species of bats, two of which are pollinators. The rest are “insectivores,” meaning they eat bugs. Bats need to eat a variety of insects to stay healthy. The problem is invasive plants push out native plants and the insects that feed on them. Bats control insect populations worldwide.

“We can tell quite a lot from bats,” McIntire said. “Some species are like a canary in the coal mine and can tell us what is going on in the environment.”

Randy Babb, a biologist who oversees the department’s wildlife viewing program, said interest in bats has been growing.

“They are very cool and interesting looking,” Babb said. “They capture the imagination and there’s a growing number of people who realize the important part in ecology they play.”

Some species of bats eat up to 12,000 insects the size of a mosquito an hour.

Babb is considering establishing a webcam to capture bat activity. The camera would be linked to the internet, allowing the public to watch bats in action.

The National Park Service also is getting in on the Bat Week fun. Montezuma Castle is hosting a Bat Week program on Oct. 29 and 30.

Where To See Bats In Arizona

Interested in doing some bat watching? There are several Arizona locations where you can get an up-close look. The best time to view bats is when the sun is setting — so check out some of these spots at dusk from May through October.

The department lists several urban bat viewing sites in Phoenix and Tucson.

Phoenix

In Phoenix, the primary viewing spot is at 40th Street and Camelback Road. That’s where a tunnel is located on the north side of the Arizona Canal. Bats also roost at the western end of that tunnel at 24th Street.

Tucson

  • Pantano Wash Bridges at Golf links 22 on Speedway and Broadway.
  • Campbell Avenue Bridge at Rillito River.
  • Ina Road bridge and drainage pipes at the Santa Rita River.
  • East Tanque Verde bridge over the Rillito River.

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