9th Annual Great Lakes bat Festival Summary

Dr. Bill Schutt giving his Friday night presentation

The 9th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival was held on July 30 & 31, 2010 at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  The goal was to spread the message that bats are critical to ecosystems around the world, and encourage people to protect them.  The event drew 1,500 people from the Southeast Michigan region and beyond.

A special presentation on Friday, July 30th at 7 PM kicked off the festival.  Zoologist Bill Schutt, (author of the book, Dark Banquet) took the audience on an entertaining voyage into the world of some of its strangest animals – the blood-feeding creatures.  Over 100 people enjoyed Dr. Schutt’s presentation and were treated to a visit by a live vampire bat from the Bat Zone.  After the presentation, Bill answered questions and autographed books.

Bat Zone staff and volunteers also lead two groups of bat enthusiasts around Cranbrook grounds in search of local insect-eating bats, part of OBC’s Summer Friday Night Bat Walks at the Institute. 

Janell Cannon signing books for festival attendeesPresentations, live animals, hands-on activities, crafts for kids, and exhibits provided a full day of fun and environmental education on Saturday, July 31st from 10 AM to 6 PM.  The festival featured a great line-up of excellent speakers including Janell Cannon (author/illustrator of the award-winning book “Stellaluna”), Fiona Reid (author/illustrator of many mammal field guides), and Bill Schutt (author of the critically acclaimed book “Dark Banquet”).

Other speakers included Dr. Maarten Vonhof (Western Michigan University), Dr. Al Kurta (Eastern Michigan University), Dr. Tim Carter (Ball State University), Bill Scullon (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), Mike Frayer (Milwaukee County Zoo), Dave Redell (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) and Dawn Fleishaus (Milwaukee County Zoo). 
Exhibitors included the United States Fish and Wildlife Department, Bat Conservation International, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Critter Catchers Inc., DTE Energy Foundation, Oakland County Health Department, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Clinton River Watershed Council, and Greyhound Rescue. 

Dale Smart (OBC Lead Presenter) explains the importance of bat housesApproximately 1,500 people attended the 9th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival during the two-day event.  90% of the attendees were from Michigan and 10% were from out of state (FL, IL, IN, MD, MN, NJ, OH, WI, Canada, Germany). 

Press coverage included featured articles in the Detroit Free Press, front page of the Oakland Press, and local newspapers.  TV coverage included Fox News and Detroit 62 TV.  Radio interviews were on WJR’s Warren Pierce Show, WUOM, and Travel Michigan Radio.  22% read about it in a newspaper, 19% picked up a flyer, 18% were OBC or Cranbrook members, 13% saw a TV interview, 12% saw it on the internet, 9% by word of mouth, 5% heard about it on the radio, and 2% saw signs as they drove by. 

An evening family-style barbeque was offered from 6 pm to 8 pm at a tributary of the Rouge River on the Cranbrook campus. Musical Mark provided the live music.  Immediately after the barbeque, bat experts demonstrated how bat research is conducted. During the “Bat Science Night” experience, bat researchers showed netting, detectors, and took questions from the crowd of over 150 people. 

Dave Redell (WDNR) shows the Big Brown Bat that was caught in the netThe scientists even caught and temporarily detained one local big brown bat.  The bat was released unharmed.  Dozens of bats were seen flying overhead and heard with a bat detector. 

´┐╝Thanks to all the speakers, exhibitors, OBC staff, Cranbrook personnel, and volunteers.  Special thanks to our sponsors:

The Gurnick Fund,
DTE Energy Foundation
Radisson – Bloomfield Hills
Janell Cannon
Paul & Adriana Vlasic
Fred Lavery Company,
Critter Catchers
Consumers Energy Foundation
Lau and Lau Associates
Corners Limited. 

© 2012 Organization for Bat Conservation