In downtown Austin, Texas the Congress Avenue has become known for bat flights where each evening from spring through fall, Mexican free-tailed bats can be spotted emerging at sunset. Austin has taken the idea of bats as being foreign creatures and created an entertainment and destination event. The Lady Bird Lake made renovations to make home for the bats in Austin under the bridge. People travel to come see the bats as people bring blankets and enjoy the viewing experience fun for all ages.
The annual Bat Fest in August marks the celebration of the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the bridge at dusk, live music, arts and crafts, food vendors, and bat related activities. By calling attention to the species they no longer become a nuisance in the city but a must see attraction.
Can Charlottesville use Austin as an example to create a festival for relaying information about the bats in the area? The festival in Austin brings attention to the importance of bats as it also brings the community together. Events like this help connect us to species such as bats that often are misconceptualized. Bats are one of the most threatened mammals on earth as many of the species are threatened with extinction it is important to highlight their contributions to the environment. Through the festival, Charlottesville can highlight the 17 bat species in Virginia, the dangers that bats are currently facing, and how citizens can become involved with bat awareness and safety efforts.
Back in 2002 there was a batch watch at Beaver Creek Park in Ivy lead by a biology professor at the University of Virginia. People attended to watch the bat sightings using a bat detector with the reasoning being that bats have a low regard and needed to be drawn attention to the positives they bring to the community. The idea of the festival held in Charlottesville is to bring recognition to the bat species in the area so that residents gain appreciation. By hosting an event with live music, food, and signs displaying information on the bat species that migrate through the area Charlottesville residents and university students can come together to appreciate bats and their contributions to the community.
“Congress Avenue Bridge.” Congress Avenue Bridge. Ed. Andrew Walker. Bat Conservation International, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Germanotta, Tony. “Inside UVA.” Bats Sing to University Researcher. Inside UVA Online, 2002. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Post by Caroline Mann