‘Bats of West Virginia and Beyond’ at Master Gardener Lecture

The vital importance of bats in nature and in our lives will be the topic addressed by West Virginia Extension Service Wildlife Specialist Sheldon Owen during a lecture Monday night at Oglebay.

The public is invited to attend the Ohio County Master Gardener Association Public Garden Lecture Series, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center.

In addition to touching on general information about bats and how they are beneficial as an effective form of insect control, Owen will discuss several more diverse topics pertaining to bats, including: bat biology and ecology, bat habitats in West Virginia, ecological services of bats and white-nose syndrome and its impact on bat populations, during the “Bats of West Virginia and Beyond,” lecture, according to garden association member Sharon Morgan.

Studies have shown that bats can catch and consume large quantities of insects, according to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. A little brown bat can catch 500 mosquitoes per hour and big brown bats are estimated to consume up to 5,000 insects in a single night. In tropical areas, bats are pollinators of important crops and play a role in the dispersal of seeds and the regeneration of forests.

Owen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife management from Mississippi State University in 1998 and conducted graduate work at the University of Georgia, went on to earn a doctorate in forest resource science from WVU in 2003. The primary focus of Owen’s graduate research involved the ecology of forest-dwelling bats and raccoons in association with intensive forest management.

Owen served as a wildlife disease biologist for the National Wildlife Disease Program within USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services in South Carolina for five years. He also served as a supervisory wildlife biologist for the South Carolina Program of Wildlife Services until 2010.

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