Bat programs coming to Bainbridge

The nonprofit Arc of Appalachia is hosting the internationally-recognized author, photographer, conservationist and bat researcher Dr. Merlin Tuttle, who is coming to Bainbridge to give two educational presentations for the public on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

There will be an afternoon program designed especially for youths and an evening presentation for all ages.

Tuttle is an engaging speaker and educator who is responsible for conserving many at-risk bat species across the planet. He has dedicated over 60 years of his life to studying, protecting and successfully promoting a positive image of bats all over the world through his advocacy. Tuttle’s program will showcase some of his most spectacular photos, demonstrating the diversity of bats across the planet and the vital role they play in the world’s natural communities.

Tickets are on sale now for the program, which will be held at the Paxton Theatre in Bainbridge.

Tuttle’s program coincides with the Arc of Appalachia’s 16th annual Wildflower Pilgrimage event, a weekend-long public event that attracts over 150 participants and leads them to some of the finest wildflower destinations in not only Ohio, but in the Eastern United States. The Highlands Nature Sanctuary — the hub of the Pilgrimage — is the Arc’s oldest and largest nature preserve. It is also home to the second densest cave region in the state and is also the only place in Ohio where bats are still able to hibernate in natural limestone caves.

Although bats play an important role in the ecosystem, consuming thousands of insect species each night, they are often misunderstood by the public. Habitat loss and purposeful damage to their hibernating, hunting and roosting grounds have had devastating impacts on their population numbers. Cave bats, which are also highly susceptible to a deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome, have suffered the greatest losses. All six of Ohio’s cave bat species are state-listed as species of concern or endangered. The loss of Ohio’s bat species would have devastating consequences on the environment and the economy of the local agricultural community, and thus the need for public education and engagement in bat conservation has never been greater.

“The Arc has long been a leading force in protecting Ohio’s bats through conservation and education,” said Nancy Stranahan, director of the Arc of Appalachia. “We hope the youth and families of our local community and people from across Ohio will join us for this fun and informative opportunity to learn about the many merits of bats and ways to support bat conservation in our state.”

Following the afternoon program, the Arc is hosting a free book signing and meet and greet with Tuttle at the nearby Appalachian Forest Museum, 7660 Cave Rd., Bainbridge. Participants are encouraged to purchase their books in advance.

For more information, visit the Arc’s website at www.arcofappalachia.org.

Submitted by Nancy Stranahan, Arc of Appalachia.