Bat Center, Critter Catchers Inc. offer scholarship

October 24 2007

Aspiring bat biologists to benefit from company’s business approach

Halloween’s traditional frightful pack could soon be losing a long-standing member of the scare crew, the greatly misunderstood bat.

With several species of bats endangered, Indiana State University’s Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation (the Bat Center) and Michigan-based Critter Catchers Inc. are offering a new $1,000 Bat Conservation Scholarship to encourage a better understanding of the world’s sole mammal capable of actual flight.

“There are so many misconceptions about bats, centered around the idea that they should be avoided or dispensed with. That’s not the case at all,” said John Whitaker Jr., professor of ecology and organismal biology at Indiana State University and one of the co-authors of “Bats of Indiana.”

“Bats are the main predator against a wide range of insects at night, including those harmful to our agricultural crops. They really bring balance to nature. This scholarship - the first offered by the Bat Center - will be a big help in encouraging students to share a role within our research facility, which is probably staffed with the largest team of bat biologists in North America. Many people study bats, and we’re hoping to spread that message to a much larger audience,” Whitaker said.

The $1,000 annual scholarship opportunity is open to a worthy student, or students, enrolled at Indiana State and will be administered by the ISU Foundation. Recipients must be full-time students in the department of environmental and ecological sciences and be associated with the Bat Center. Preference will be given to graduate students. Undergraduates may be considered if the applicant has demonstrated a strong interest in the study of bats.

“Humans instinctively fear the things in our world that we don’t understand,” said David Kugler, president of Critter Catchers, a Michigan-based wildlife management firm. “Bats, unfortunately, seem to land at the top of that list, regardless of the many benefits they provide. When the general public attempts to get bats out of their home, the natural reaction is to harm the bat with a tennis racket or a baseball bat. That approach is certainly going to damage lamps and picture frames, and it’s definitely not our suggested approach in dealing with an animal that weighs ounces, not pounds.”

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About the Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation - Founded in 2005, the Bat Center’s mission is to conduct and encourage basic and applied research on North American bats by collaborating with students and other scientists, and to make findings available to the scientific community and the public through technical and popular publications, teaching and outreach programs. The Center hosted a Bat Festival in conjunction with the Organization for Bat Conservation, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The first publication of the Bat Center, introduced during the Bat Festival, was “Bats of Indiana,” which is available for purchase at the center. For more information, visit www.indstate.edu/ecology/centers/bat.htm

About Critter Catchers Inc. - Founded in 2005, Ortonville, Mich.-based Critter Catchers Inc. was formed by David Kugler, an Oakland University graduate holding a bachelor’s of science in Biology, and a master’s in environmental engineering from Wayne State University. Working during college for a local animal control business, Kugler later applied those lessons learned by opening his company, which applies a humane approach to bat removal and control. Serving commercial and residential customer in southeastern Michigan, the Critter Catchers Inc. team removes and relocates a wide array of wildlife, including skunks, squirrels, raccoons, bats, opossums and more. For more information, and to view reports from scholarship recipients at the end of the scholarship award period, visit www.crittercatchersinc.com.

Photo:
Small bat An eastern pipistrelle bat, the smallest bat found in Indiana, is one of the most widely studied bats at Indiana State University's Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation. (Tony Campbell/ISU)

Contacts: John Whitaker, professor of ecology and organismal biology and director, Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2383 or jwhitaker3@isugw.indstate.edu; David Kugler, Critter Catchers Inc., (248) 404-0354 or dkugler@crittercatchersinc.com

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Story Highlights

Indiana State University's Center for North American Bat Research and Conservatin and Critter Catchers Inc. have announced a new $1,000 Bat Conservation Scholarship to encourage a better undersanding of the world's sole mammal capable of actual flight.

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