The Wildlife Department is pausing public visits to view Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from summer maternity cave.
After 26 seasons, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is pausing the popular Selman Bat Watch program.
“Over the next few months, we will be taking a detailed look at how we can best serve our outdoor constituents with outreach programs like these and how we can most effectively manage wildlife resources across the state,” said Kurt Kuklinski, Wildlife Diversity Supervisor. “We are so thankful for the incredible team of volunteers and conservation partners, and the leadership of recently retired Selman Bat Watch coordinator Melynda Hickman, that made each and every bat watch a success. Without their dedication and support, we wouldn’t have been able to share this experience with thousands of visitors.”
Though public visits to Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area are on hold, the Wildlife Department will continue to conserve the area’s healthy population of Mexican free-tailed bats and their sensitive cave habitat. The migratory bats arrive in the state in spring, and pregnant females navigate to Selman Bat Cave or one of the state’s three other known maternity caves where they each give birth to one pup. The bats emerge at dusk to feed on flying insects and may forage up to 50 miles from the cave before returning at dawn. Due to the sensitive nature of the bat cave, unregistered visitors aren't allowed onsite to keep human disturbance of this important habitat to a minimum. The Wildlife Department bought Selman Bat Cave and the surrounding 340 acres of land in 1995 with funds donated to the Wildlife Diversity Program and from hunting and fishing license revenue.