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Guano happens

June 15, 2016


I love my T-shirt: Advice from a Bat. Trust in your senses. Spend time just hanging around with friends. Don’t be afraid of the dark. Get a grip. Enjoy the nightlife. Sometimes you’ve just gotta wing it. Guano happens.  I have always thought these words were cute – especially the last one. I had that shirt on last week as we were looking at the shelter in Montauk State Park in Missouri that we are going to use for a family gathering in August. There we met “guano” head on. There were droppings all over the tables and the ground and there were Brown bats in the ceiling. There was a sign on the wall to explain why the bats were there.

I am in a climate change group trying to understand the issues and how to make a difference. It is easy to do things like recycle. It is easy to shut off the lights. It is easy to turn your thermostat up or down a few degrees. It is easy to make little changes. When and how do you make big changes and challenge others to make changes to save the planet?

What did the sign say? The Big Brown Bat was part of the community that we were being invited to join at the park. Bats are beneficial. One Big Brown Bat can eat 3,000 insects in one night. Many of these insects are mosquitoes. They keep insect population in check, most notably ones that cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars a year. They are also important to the creatures that eat them such as hawks, mink and raccoons, and are the primary nutrient providers for rare cave-dwelling creatures.  

Well Ok – so far so good. But what about rabies and horror movies? The note goes on.

Bats are not dangerous. Rabies? Less than ½ of one percent of bats contract rabies. It is more likely that you would contact rabies from a pet dog. Will they fly into your hair and bite? Nope many can catch tiny insect sin the dark using echolocation, which means that they can easily avoid contact with your head.

This is their home. The stone shelter is one place in Montauk State park that hosts these messy but peaceful creatures. You are invited to share this space with them. A broom is provided so you can clear the evidence and enjoy this shelter too. Bats deserve the right to live just like you and me.  

“This is their home.” “You are invited to share this space with them.” In Genesis 1 there is language of God giving people the earth to “rule”, “have authority”, and people have heard “dominion” as domination. We are here to be a “steward” or caretaker of the planet – not to destroy it or to use for our own purposes with nothing left for future generations. We have to change our language from “using” resources to “renewable” resources. We can make a difference – good or bad – so we had better start looking at the consequences of all our actions.

I will keep you posted as to our August family gathering in the home of our family of Brown Bats. There are different sayings “This is where the rubber meets the road.” “The proof is in the pudding”. “Put your money where your mouth is.” Can we share space? Can we live and let live? Can we not have “our way” but “share” space without fear or trying to get rid of the bats? Not everyone was happy with this “sharing” arrangement.  

The park personnel will clean off the evidence of the night when we have reserved the space and if no one looks up they may never know we are sharing space. Yet do we tell? Do we educate others? Do we step forward and share the truth? I must admit the bats were sleeping in the ceiling and quiet when we visited “their” space. That is how they will be on the morning we are there. The “evidence” of their being there will be swept away. At first I didn’t think it would bother me. Yet there is a nagging feeling as I think about it. That is my problem and I hope I am over it and celebrating the “full” family gathering this August – bats and all because I know “Guano happens”. 

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