MAIDEN ROCK, Wis., Sept. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Two state of Wisconsin conservation biologists hosted a Bat Night field trip for more than 30 people at the Fairmount Minerals Maiden Rock sand mine recently. An estimated 85,000 to 100,000 bats make the Maiden Rock mine their home during the winter. This is the state's second largest bat hibernation spot.
John Paul White and Heather Kaarakka, conservation biologists with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), explained during the field trip that four bat species hibernate in the Maiden Rock mine: the Big Brown, Little Brown, Northern Long-Ear, and Eastern Pipistrelle species, which are on the state's threatened species list.
At an older mine entrance, now a secondary escape route, field trip attendees saw how a harp trap catches the bats without causing them harm. They also heard the bats' high-frequency sounds with a device called an echolocater.
"These field trips are a great way to educate the public about bat appreciation and conservation," said Kaarakka. "We enjoy the public education and outreach."
North American bats, which are vital to the preservation of the ecosystem, are threatened by a disease known as White Nose Syndrome, named for the powdery white substance visible on infected bats. More than 1 million North American bats have died. The syndrome does not harm people or pets.
Bats, which eat night-flying insects that can harm agricultural products and people, basically, are a natural form of pest control, in addition to plant pollinators and seed dispersers. A recent national study, according to the DNR, estimates their "value to Wisconsin's agricultural industry between $658 million and $1.5 billion a year."
The DNR has installed bat detectors at the Fairmount Minerals mine to log the time and direction of these night-flying bats so they can learn more about White Nose Syndrome. The company has been working with the DNR on this sustainability initiative for more than eight years to ensure the bats' safety during the winter, in addition to enabling greater research into White Nose Syndrome.
Proceeds from the field trip's $50 admission fee are supporting the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation.
About Fairmount Minerals
Fairmount Minerals is one of the United States' largest producers of industrial sand. The Chardon, Ohio-based company operates a global network of 23 mining, mineral processing, manufacturing, and coating facilities with six administrative and R&D development offices.
Fairmount Minerals' specialized sands advance a vast array of industries and markets, such as construction, filtration, foundry, glass, sports turf, and oil and gas. The company's more than 750 employees bring its sustainability motto of 'Do Good. Do Well.' to life and embrace its sustainable development (SD) mission of People, Planet, and Prosperity or 3 Ps. For more information, please visit: http://www.fairmountminerals.com.
SOURCE Fairmount Minerals