Tri-Cities TN/VA: Broken clouds, 69.8 °F
ETSU and GSB Natural History Museum and Gray Fossil Site 1212 Suncrest Drive Gray, TN 37615 www.grayfossilmuseum.com
Museum offers ‘batty’ family activity to ‘battle’ bat decline JOHNSON CITY –With bat habitat options decreasing and an elusive fungus killer of bats on the rise in this area, the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site will offer an opportunity for families to “Build a Bat Box” of their very own on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 27th from 1-3 p.m. Though some people may still cringe at the idea of having ‘bats in the belfry’, there is nothing crazy about the idea. Keeping bats around could help give you a ‘bug-free’ backyard next summer while helping out our most misunderstood flying mammal friends. Most people don’t know that a single brown bat can eat as many as 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour! (I bet your bug zapper can't do that!) White-nose syndrome, a fungus linked to bat deaths in the eastern US, along with windmill farms and habitat destruction have all added to a decline in bat populations with far-reaching implications. In addition to feeding on insects, bats can help to pollinate plants and disperse seeds. Crop damage can even occur if there aren’t enough bats to keep insect population down. During this program, grandparents, parents and children can work together to build and decorate a bat house to take home. While the activity is fun and encourages team building, the bat house is specified according to plans from Bat Conservation International and is intended to be used by bats! Putting up a bat box on a tree or barn in your yard will help reduce the number of ants and mosquitoes in your area and will provide a warm, cozy home for bats. Program registration is limited to 15 families, so sign up early to reserve your spot! Multiple family members are invited to participate for the one cost of $35 per box. Comparable ready-made bat boxes often cost more, house fewer bats and aren’t designed to encourage use by bats. All materials and instructions needed for a safe assembly and installation will be provided. No experience needed. Your finished box will be 20” x 24” and can house up to 50 bats. “Build a Bat Box” is a perfect activity for the whole family to do together! You can reduce the number of insects in your area and help save an important animal at the same time by participating in this fantastic activity! Visitors to the museum can also visit the “Masters of the Night” temporary exhibit, sponsored locally by Dex, that introduces visitors to the real world of bats as diverse, beneficial mammals with fascinating skills and extraordinary abilities. The museum is located 1.8 miles from exit 13 on Interstate 26. All-Access Admission is $7 for children ages 5-12, $9 for seniors, and $10 for adults. Hours are 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, or special assistance for those with disabilities, call toll free (866) 202-6223 or visit www.grayfossilmuseum.com.