Artwork by Marci Caballero-Reynolds

Several organizations in Patagonia came together on April 17 to acknowledge the role bats play in all of our lives. In an effort spearheaded by Caleb Weaver to spread awareness on how important bats are to their ecosystems, Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) partnered with local organizations in Patagonia to distribute 100 take-home youth bat activity kits that were distributed through the Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center Food Distribution Services, which is currently providing more than 450 meals per week to Patagonia youth and families. 

Kits included art projects, a bat mask, stickers, a bat activity book, and some agave seed pellets with instructions on how to plant them to help feed bats. 

The Patagonia Creative Arts Association donated art supplies to these batty activity bags. Patagonia Public Library Director Laura Wenzel hosted two virtual storytimes (youtube videos where Wenzel reads stories aloud for youth on a weekly basis) last week centering on bats. 

On April 17, BRN staff Francesca Claverie and Perin McNelis hosted videos of their own on Facebook/Instagram Live where they discussed how agaves grown by BRN support two of our most important bat species in the borderlands region, the Mexican Long-tongued bat and the Lesser Long-nosed bat. Ethnobotanist Dr. Gary Nabhan and ecologist Dr. Ron Pulliam also gave a live Facebook and Instagram talk at the Huachuca agave (Agave parryi var. huachucensis) patch at the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve about the overlapping paths of agaves, bats, and people in this special part of the world. Both these videos may be found on BRN’s Facebook page. 

Bats, who we can thank for pollinating plants responsible for many of the good things in life (chocolate and tequila included) and limiting many of the things in life we’d like less of (mosquitos that carry dengue and Zika fever, for instance), have recently received a bad rap due to misinformation surrounding SARS-CoV-2. 

While scientists believe SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats and transferred to humans through another mammal, according to Bat Conservation International, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is more likely a result of illegal wet markets where “live animals stacked closely together in stressful and unsanitary conditions increase the chance that viruses can ‘spillover’ from one animal host to another and to humans.” 

Bat Appreciation Day was an opportunity to come together for the youth of our community and set the record straight on these important creatures.