First, the basics.
“Bat guano is…bat poop,” said Marcy Peterson.
Peterson’s job Sunday was to try to convince a crowd of about 45 park visitors that bats - guano and all - are not such bad things. The crowd ended the lesson by building simple bat houses to be hung around the park.
“Bats are really increasing in popularity,” said Peterson, who works at the park, 10 miles south of Sandpoint. “People are finally starting to get over the myths.”
“Bats are blind,” volunteered one boy in the crowd.
“They get in women’s hair,” said several people.
“They suck your blood,” said a man.
Not so, said Peterson, undaunted when her prepared notes fluttered away in the wind.
In fact, the winged mammals gobble mosquitoes and are fun to watch, she said. Bats’ reputation for rabies, she said, is greatly exaggerated.
“Your dog probably has a better chance of getting rabies,” she said. “But you still don’t want to pick them (bats) up.”
About two dozen people helped build bat houses.
“They (bats) are kind of spooky, but I like having them around to eat the insects,” said Dorothy Modafferi of Hope.
“I haven’t seen any for a long time, and that’s bad,” said Bob Deubel of Sandpoint.
“A lot of these Dracula movies scare people,” added his wife, Kathryn Deubel.
“Everyone has kind of a little bit of fear, because that’s the way we were brought up,” said Peterson. “I’ve heard lots of stories about people who tried to kill bats.”
Sandpoint’s Bob Ward, a bird watcher, was one of several people who planned to build bat houses at home.
“Bats are kind of neat,” he said. “They’re really quite beautiful, with a face like a dog.
“They’d be fun to watch,” he said, “but I’m blind as a bat.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo