The Echo
Women in Bat Conservation: Leslie Sturges

The Echo

Women in Bat Conservation: Leslie Sturges

Published on March 25, 2015

Leslie Sturges looking at flying foxesName: Leslie Sturges

Title: President

Organization: The Save Lucy Campaign, USA

Female Conservation Hero:

Dr. Jane Goodall is my conservation hero because she approached her work with unconventional methods and in so doing she changed the way many researchers approach and respect their study subjects, plus she continues to be an outspoken advocate for the natural world.

What is your focus in bat conservation?

I am most interested in public education and raising awareness of the crucial role of nature in our lives. My personal mission is to help people see that we are connected to, not separate from, all life on earth. I gravitated toward bats because they are fascinating animals with a terrible PR problem. I got involved in rehabilitating orphaned and injured bats because it is an opportunity to work with animals in a very intimate setting and because it is in great part that disconnect between people and nature that sends native wildlife into rehabilitation.

I also work to continue improving rehabilitation and captive management of bats and helping the rehabilitation and research communities work together in the face of white nose syndrome.  

How have you been involved with Bat Conservation International? 

I have been privileged to work with BCI staff on several projects and educational efforts. BCI laid the groundwork for grassroots bat conservation efforts, and smaller organizations like mine are possible because of BCI’s early efforts to highlight the plight of our native bats.

Tri-colored batWhat’s your favorite species and why?

I adore tricolored bats (Perimyotis subflavus). They are the smallest bat in my region, but they have huge personalities. It amazes me that we have a mammal that is the size of a hummingbird zipping around in the night sky. 

What is the most satisfying part of your involvement with bat conservation?

The best part of what I do is hearing an entire audience of 100 people say “Awwww!!” in unison when they first see the beautiful face of a live native bat. Most people have only a vague mental image when they think ‘bat’. The reality of a beautiful, small animal with soft fur and dark eyes changes that image into something positive and worthy of care and concern. 

Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in bat conservation?

Take action! Volunteer! There are so many ways to raise awareness of bats. Just telling a neighbor that bats are important and not to be feared is bat conservation in action! But to amplify your efforts, volunteer with a local wildlife conservation group. There are lots of opportunities to reach out to the public through community events, and small conservation organizations don’t have staff to be at every event. You can also volunteer in wildlife rehabilitation, where you can gain valuable hands-on experience, which really helps if you decide to pursue a career as a biologist.

Leslie with a bat



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