Melquisedec Gamba-Rios

Our Bat Walks Program provides interactive and in-person bat experiences in local communities nationwide to better educate the public on bats. We are developing a network of volunteers, “BCI Bat Walk Ambassadors,” to lead nature walks where they identify local bat species using technology and provide educational information about the importance of bats and threats to their survival.

Objectives

Develop
a network of trained volunteers who will provide interactive bat encounters by providing nature walks where participants can listen to ultrasonic calls of bats
Develop
tools with zoos and nature center partners using best practices, knowledge, and technology

Project Details

In the past few years, bat detectors, which plug in to a smart phone and are app-enabled, have become cost competitive with a pair of binoculars. We commit to sparking a nationwide movement toward a new kind of nature experience, at sunset instead of sunrise, by taking advantage of emerging bat detector technology and launching a nationwide bat walks program.

In 2019, we began the pilot phase of a bat walks program. Through this initiative, we will develop a network of trained volunteers who will provide interactive and in-person bat encounters. Based on existing bat walks programs in Europe and New York’s Central Park, our program will offer highly effective, experiential ways to relay to participants the importance of bats and the many threats to their survival during intermittent stops along a walking route. Through physical participation, people will retain the information they learn through shared experience and then have an opportunity to teach others.

In the pilot phase, we will partner with zoos and nature centers to access a trained network of volunteers and an existing community of nature lovers predisposed to seek out wildlife experiences. These expert partners will provide the opportunity to jointly develop materials using best practices, knowledge, and technology.

Our pilot program will begin in Texas, which is home to 32 species of bats — more than any other state in America. Bats can be found across the entire state, including in metropolitan areas and at many popular tourist destinations. In Florida, our bat walks pilot will be targeted to support our Florida bonneted bat conservation work, through a combination of community outreach and surveillance. In 2019 and 2020, initial trainings were hosted in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Miami. Our first official partner in this effort is the Houston Zoo, who will assist in developing this program in a novel way. They are a leader in effective community engagement and developing conservation messages that resonate, which will be instrumental in piloting a nationwide program.

If you are interested in bringing a Bat Walk Training to your city please fill out our Application Form!

Wilson Photography

Host Partners

Partner Organizations offering Bat Walks:
Most Bat Walks are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 safety precautions and local health guidance.

  • Armand Bayou Nature Center
  • Austin Families in Nature
  • Austin Nature and Science Center
  • Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cameron Park Zoo
  • Capital Area Master Naturalists
  • City of Austin Park Rangers
  • City of Austin Watershed Protection Dept
  • City of Austin Wildland Conservation Division
  • City of Dripping Springs
  • City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department
  • Dallas Arboretum
  • Deering Estate at Cutler
  • Everglades National Park
  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens
  • Florida Power and Light
  • The Frank Buck Zoo
  • Goodwater Master Naturalists
  • Harris County Precinct 4
  • Hays County Master Naturalists
  • Hill Country Master Naturalists
  • Houston Area Bat Team
  • Houston Parks and Recreation Department
  • John Bunker Sands Wetland Center
  • Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area
  • Lindheimer Chapter of the Master Naturalists
  • The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
  • Miami-Dade County Nature Centers and EcoAdventrues
  • Miami-Dade County Schools BioTech
  • Nature Discovery Center
  • North Texas Master Naturalists
  • Patch of Heaven Sanctuary
  • River Legacy Living Science Center
  • Riverside Nature Center
  • San Antonio Botanical Gardens
  • Shield Ranch/El Ranchito
  • Texas Discovery Gardens
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife
  • Texas Tech Outdoor School
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Travis County Balcones Canyonlands Preserve
  • Travis County Parks
  • Tropical Audubon
  • Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve