Would you like to watch hundreds of thousands of bats as they emerge for their nightly feeding session? The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers this chance each summer at the Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area near Freedom, in northwestern Oklahoma.
“We’re excited to offer eight viewing opportunities this summer. Our bat watches will be held on the four consecutive weekends beginning July 10,” said Melynda Hickman, bat watch coordinator and wildlife diversity biologist with the Wildlife Department.
Each night’s viewing activities are limited to 75 visitors to be randomly drawn from a pool of mailed-in registration forms. Forms will be available online at wildlifedepartment.com beginning May 26. 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 26 and June 5. Only mailed registration forms postmarked on or before June 5 will be accepted. Hickman urges everyone to carefully read the registration form instructions to ensure consideration.
Successful registrants will receive an e-mail confirmation and an information packet in the mail. Admission to the bat watch is $12 for adults and $6 for children 8 to 12 years of age. 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 in a mass exodus, feeding on flying insects from 15 to several thousand feet above the ground. This cave was purchased by the Wildlife Department 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.
The Selman Bat Watch celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is offered by the Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program. This program manages, monitors, and promotes rare, declining, and endangered species as well as those species not hunted or fished. Learn more about this program at wildlifedepartment.com.