Hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats will be emerging from the Selman Bat Cave to feed on insects this summer, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is offering your family a chance to watch.
"Registration forms will be available online at wildlifedepartment.com beginning May 31," said Melynda Hickman, bat watch coordinator and wildlife diversity biologist with the Wildlife Department. "Eight viewing opportunities will be offered this year, beginning Friday, July 8." Each night's viewing activities are limited to 75 visitors randomly selected from the pool of mailed-in registration forms.
Hopeful viewers must print, complete and mail their registration form to the Bat Watch Program c/o Oklahoma Wildlife Department, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152 between May 31 and June 10. Only mailed registration forms postmarked on or before June 10 will be accepted. Hickman urges everyone to carefully read the registration form instructions to ensure consideration.
Successful registrants will receive e-mail confirmation by June 15 and an information packet in the mail. Admission to the bat watch is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 8-12. Children must be 8 or older to attend. Only one registration form is needed for families or groups. Group members should not register individually.
The migratory Mexican free-tailed bat uses the Selman Bat Cave as a maternity roost. "Each evening, bats leave the cave to feed on flying insects. The bats will feed from 15 to several thousand feet above the ground." Hickman said. The nightly emergence typically lasts just over one hour.
The Wildlife Department purchased the Selman Bat Cave in 1995 in an effort to conserve one of the four known maternity caves in Oklahoma and to increase public appreciation of Mexican free-tailed bats and other bat species. For more information about the Selman Bat Watch go to watchbats.com.