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News Release
Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov

Oct. 15, 2007

Free Children’s Book Distributed to Promote Bat Education

AUSTIN, Texas — Approximately 37,000 copies of a new children’s book entitled “Frankie the Free-tailed Bat” are being distributed free to schools across Texas and in parts of Mexico by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“It’s important to educate children to help them understand that bats aren’t bad, that they’re actually good for the environment,” said author Nyta Hensley, who is also the Natural Resources Specialist for the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area. “Bats play key roles in a lot of different ecologies. For one thing, new research shows bats save farmers millions of dollars in avoided pesticide use by naturally controlling insect pests.”

The book, which is being published in English and Spanish, is about a female free-tailed bat which migrates to Texas, where she has a baby. The story tells the adventures of Frankie and her son as they migrate back and forth from Texas to Mexico.

“A big part of this project is to help educate people about bats and the important role they play in agriculture,” said Hensley.

The free-tailed bat mainly feeds on insects, and as a result, it reduces insect pests such as the corn earworm moth that harm farmers’ crops. In turn, the amount of chemicals that farmers need to use is also diminished.

Boston University Professor Thomas Kunz, Ph.D., is leading a research project in Texas to specify the dollar value of bats to control insect pests. He also consulted on the content of “Frankie the Free-Tailed Bat,” which was developed as a public outreach component of the research project with funds from a National Science Foundation grant.

“If adults could only see the world through the eyes of children, they could relive the wonderment and excitement of discovery they too once experienced in their youth,” Kunz writes in the book’s introduction. “Bats are creatures of the night; they often live in dark places, and thus are rarely seen directly by most people. Because of this, children and adults often develop unfounded, false attitudes toward bats that are more often based on myth than on fact. [This book] tells a delightful story, based on scientific discoveries, that not only imparts new knowledge about this fascinating bat species to young readers, but it also contains new information that will be of interest to a broader audience—that this species and others like it, are valuable members of our environment that need to be protected.”

Along with being the most common bat in Texas, the free-tailed bat is also one of the most abundant mammals in North America, commonly known as the “house bat.”

For more information about how to obtain your copy of “Frankie the Free-tailed Bat,” please contact Mark Klym at mark.klym@tpwd.texas.gov or visit the TPWD Web site for an electronic version.

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TH 2007-10-15


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