Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Costume parade and live wildlife highlight Leonardo Nature Center grand opening

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

by David Wheeler

Witches, ghosts, ghouls, bats – and even dogs in costume – helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Nature Center, a partnership between Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Over 200 people visited Leonardo State Marina on a gorgeous autumn afternoon to enjoy the Halloween costume contest, pet parade, pumpkin painting, and light refreshments.

 

Yet the tiniest creature of all may have been the most memorable –

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teaches children about the big brown bat.

a live big brown bat. CWF wilflife ecologist Stephanie Feigin showed the rapt families the unique adaptations that allow bats to fly, roost, and use sonar, as well as the surprising skeletal similarity between a bat’s wing and a human hand.

 

Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina, had this to say, “The Marina’s new Nature Center and partnership with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ will provide continued education to the Bayshore Area and expand on our presence in the community, many residents were grateful for this event and we look forward to hosting additional events in the future.”

Stephanie Feigin, CWF wildlife ecologist, Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Education Director, and Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina.

 

This partnership is designed to educate the public about important coastal habitat and diverse wildlife species that utilize the Raritan Bayshore area.  The grand opening allowed visitors of the center to get up close and personal with both local species like diamondback terrapins, and invasive species like the red eared slider. In addition to those two turtle species, the Nature Center also hosts a corn snake, bearded dragon, touch tanks and other activities for children to enjoy.

 

“Children and adults alike are often amazed to find out some of the wildlife species that live right in their backyards and neighborhoods – and now our Nature Center allows visitors to experience those incredible animals up close,” said CWF Director of Education, Stephanie DAlessio. “We are so excited to create a new generation of environmental stewards to help protect our coastal habitat and the wildlife that shares it with us – all while having fun connecting local families to nature.”

 

Just south of New York City, New Jersey’s Raritan Bayshore hosts an impressive wildlife diversity for such a densely populated metropolitan area. Leonardo State Marina is located in the Leonardo section of Middletown in Monmouth County, west of Sandy Hook and just north of Route 36.

 

The Nature Center is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm, with extended hours until 6 pm on Fridays. CWF and Leonardo State Marina also offer school field trips, summer programs, and special events throughout the year.

You can learn more about the Nature Center at or to inquire about school or community programs, call 732-291-2986 or email Stephanie DAlessio at Stephanie.dalessio@conservewildlifenj.org.

 

 

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

Halloween Without Bats

Monday, October 31st, 2016

By Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

This Halloween, while you are with friends and family celebrating a spooky evening of fun, I ask you to take a moment and think about one more thing – Halloween without bats. I want you to think about bats today not as the spooky creatures of the night that some people normally think of them as, but as incredible mammals that are invaluable to our ecosystem. In New Jersey, all of our 9 bat species are insectivores. They can eat thousands of insects in one night, protecting our crops and forests from insect destruction, and they pollinate many important foods that we love. A study published in Science magazine estimates that bats’ insect-eating services may be worth as much as $53 billion to US agriculture alone.

Photo courtesy of Blaine Rothauser.

Photo courtesy of Blaine Rothauser.

Despite the many environmental and economic benefits bats provide, bat populations around the world are still declining. Bats face many threats, including habitat loss and destruction, human persecution, wind energy development, and White-Nose Syndrome.

Little brown bats. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Little brown bats. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Devastatingly, we have lost over 6 million bats nationwide due to the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) – a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans or Pd. It attacks hibernating bats, disturbing them during hibernation when the bats’ immune response is low, and prevents them from conserving enough stored energy to survive until spring. WNS also causes dehydration and unrest as well as severe wing damage that can prevent bats from flying. Much is still unknown about White-nose syndrome, its spread, and its consequences. The federal government, states, several universities, and organizations like ours are working hard to track and understand this disease.

Big brown bat emerging from barn. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Hall.

Big brown bat emerging from barn. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Hall.

In New Jersey, about 50,000 bats were killed by WNS in the first year (2009) – and we now estimate over 60 tons of mosquitoes and other night-flying insects go undevoured each year from loss of bats. Though bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans they are still poorly understood and underappreciated, which is why today I ask you to think of them in a new light. Today, think about bats for all of the wonderful benefits they provide, think of them as amazing animals that work hard at night to protect our ecosystems, because we need to make a change.

To protect the bats we still have, it is important that people understand the stress these bats are under. It is important that we re-think how we view bats, remove the spooky stigmas that surround them and appreciate their importance to us. So today, think about bats think about how important they are, how badly we need to protect them and how scary a world without bats would be.

Big brown bat. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

Big brown bat. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Feigin.

 

Stephanie Feigin is a wildlife ecologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


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Gone Batty: The Creature Show Halloween Special

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Conserve Wildlife Foundation Biologist and 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner Featured in Halloween Special of The Creature Show

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

TheCreatureShow

 

Just in time for Halloween, learn more about New Jersey’s bat population in the latest episode of The Creature Show! In this episode, join Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s wildlife ecologist Stephanie Feigin and 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner MacKenzie Hall on their journey to track the federally listed Northern long-eared bat, hear from a young bat advocate and learn more about current threats to bat populations.

 

The Creature Show Halloween Special offers a glimpse into the work by New Jersey’s bat biologists to protect the remaining population of these misunderstood creatures of the night. Learn how to radio track a bat, see the joy in our biologists’ faces when all of their effort in the field pays off, and listen as common myths about bats are de-bunked.

 

The episode is running through Halloween in the small theater downstairs at Duke Farms‘ Orientation Center (Hillsborough, New Jersey) on a continuous loop in their “bat cave.”

 

The Creature Show is a documentary webseries dedicated to conservation storytelling. Their stage: the wilds of New Jersey, within the nation’s most crowded state. Here they find represented all the villains of global extinction, including habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species and wildlife disease. They also find wildlife biologists and regular citizens who have devoted themselves to protecting the region’s biodiversity, no matter what the challenges may be.

 

Learn more:

 

 

Creature Show Halloween Special from The Creature Show on Vimeo.

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Halloween and Bats

Monday, October 19th, 2015
Spooky or Beneficial?

by Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

Big Brown Bat photo by Blaine Rothauser

Big Brown Bat photo by Blaine Rothauser

It’s that time of year again, the days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and creatures of the night are lurking behind shadowy corners. As Halloween approaches one animal comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind – bats.

 

For most people, the connection between the spookiness of Halloween and bats is a natural fit. Bats are elusive creatures of the night that hide in dark spaces, and they live secretive lives leaving us in fear of their actions.

 

Bats have been misunderstood by humans for many years, and are still among the most persecuted animals on earth. In many parts of the world, bats are killed due to fear or harmful myths that make them seem scary or even dangerous.

 

To me, however, that connection does not seem like a natural fit. Bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans. They can eat thousands of insects in one night, protecting our crops and forests from insect destruction. They pollinate many important foods that we love and are worth millions of dollars to U.S. agriculture alone.

 

Though tying bats with the Halloween season gets the general public thinking about bats for almost a full month, I prefer to think of bats every day. I like to think about them on a warm summer night when I am outside not being bit by mosquitoes, or when I am eating some of my favorite foods, like chocolate and bananas, that are pollinated by bats.

 

Sadly, however, due to the many threats that bats face today, we have lost a significant amount of our bat population nationwide. The continued loss of these animals will have drastic effects, including increasing the demand for chemical pesticides, and we will be losing a key link in our ecosystems that is irreplaceable.

 

This is why it is important that we work to love the bats we still have for all of the benefits they provide. We need to remove the spooky stigmas that surround bats and show them off in a new light, because to me the scariest thing would be a world without bats.

Red Bat photo by Blaine Rothauser

Red Bat photo by Blaine Rothauser

And they really are pretty cute.

 

Learn More:

 

Stephanie Feigin is the Wildlife Ecologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.