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Night in state park promotes bats
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SOCIAL CIRCLE — The ninth annual Bat Blitz, hosted by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, is set for July 25-29, at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth. The blitz provides an opportunity for researchers, management biologists and students from federal and state agencies, universities and industries to exchange information and develop strategies for studying bat communities.
The event kicks off with a family friendly education night at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 25. Admission is free, but there is a $5 parking fee.
The bat blitz involves intense surveys — three nights of mist netting at 30-40 sites, acoustic sampling and other techniques — to look at the species composition and prevalence of bats on state and federal lands within an hour of Fort Mountain. Base camp will be at the park.
“The bat blitz brings researchers together from around the eastern U.S. to sample a large area in a short period of time,” said Trina Morris, a wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division, part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “It provides a great opportunity to teach people about bats and survey techniques and to learn more about the bats in the area.”
Small insectivorous bats, like the species found in Georgia, can eat more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. Other species of bats around the world serve important roles as pollinators of crops such as bananas and mangoes.
Georgia is home to 16 bat species, all of which seek a sheltered roost during the day and emerge at night to eat flying insects such as moths, mosquitoes and beetles. Some species, such as the gray bat and Southeastern myotis, depend on suitable caves for roosting. Others, such as big brown bats and evening bats, are more adaptable and use hollow trees and buildings. Red bats and Seminole bats conceal themselves in foliage.
All Georgia bats use echolocation, a biological sonar system, to find food and avoid obstacles while flying rapidly in the darkness.

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