The Oregon/Washington Bureau of Land Management is hoping that a bat with a literary name will help the office defend its Bat Beauty Contest title. And the public has a chance to vote.
Here are the details from the Bureau of Land Management:
Each October, the BLM hosts a beauty contest to find the most stunning bat photographed on BLM public lands across the county. The event begins on October 24 and ends on Halloween. It also coincides with International Bat Week to raise awareness about bat conservation and their essential role in the natural world.
Last year, the BLM named Barbara, a canyon bat from Lake County, the 2022 Bat Beauty Contest Winner. Barbara was photographed by Kate Yates, BLM wildlife biologist.
This year, BLM offices in Oregon/Washington will be placing their hopes on William ShakespEAR, a Townsend’s big-eared bat from Butte Falls, photographed by Emma Busk, BLM wildlife biologist.
“We feel confident that William will bring us home the crown,” said Donald Manuszewski, BLM-OR/WA Deputy State Director for Communications. “He has the most beautiful ears.”
As a Townsend’s big-eared bat, William’s ears measure about half his body. The species can be found throughout both Oregon and Washington and is very vulnerable to human disturbance. Its numbers are declining, causing the species to be named an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. In an effort to help, BLM wildlife biologists perform regular checks on Oregon caves to keep an eye on bat populations and monitor for symptoms of white-nose syndrome, which can kill hibernating bats.
Bats play an essential role in Oregon. All bats in the Pacific Northwest are insectivorous, meaning they rid our world of pests like mosquitos, beetles, and moths. Just one bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour!
“We hope the contest is fun, and we also hope it increases people’s appreciation of these creatures,” said Manuszewski. “Bats aren’t just beautiful, they’re also in need of our protection.”
Want to do your part? As we head into winter, avoid exploring mines and caves where bats may be hibernating. And this week, help us share information about our flying friends!