10/18/14 2:00pm
A baby brown bat. (Credit: Courtesy of Organization for Bat Conservation)

A baby brown bat. (Credit: Courtesy of Organization for Bat Conservation)

Don’t be afraid of that dangling bat this Halloween — odds are it’s not real.

Biology experts warn that North American bat populations — including those found on Long Island — are declining, and at an alarming rate due to a newly documented condition known as White Nose Syndrome.

“Bats that are common to the North Fork are some of the most threatened bat species,” said Bill Schutt, a zoologist and professor at LIU Post who is an expert on endangered bats. “The most common here is the little brown bat.”

Mr. Schutt will discuss local bat populations Sunday at a North Fork Audubon Society workshop at Peconic Lane Community Center. The workshop starts at 2 p.m.

Mr. Schutt said bat species don’t get the credit they are owed, overshadowed by myths and the common perception that the flying mammals are just rodents.

“Bats take over the birds’ job at night,” he said, explaining that significant losses to bat populations could mean an increase in insect populations.

“The more insects that are present, the more insecticides will be used, entering in the environment and collecting in the water table,” he said.

One little brown bat consumes thousands of insects each night, eating its body weight in food, according to the Organization for Bat Conservation.

A total of nine bat species live in New York, none of which are considered “vampire bats,” which drink blood and likely drive the misconception of bat populations. Those species are found in southern Mexico, Central America, and South America; the bats drink blood of cows, goats, pigs, and chickens, according to the organization.

This time of year, bats will be heading north, to the mines and caves of upstate New York and Pennsylvania, and as far north as Canada, where they go into hibernation. In those caves bats are catching White Nose Syndrome, a white fungus that thrives in cold environments. It grows on a bat and can wake it from hibernation, wasting its precious stored energy and often contributing to its death.

The fungus has killed an estimated 5.7 million bats in eastern North America since it was documented in the 2006-’07 winter, killing 90 to 100 percent of bats in caves affected by the fungus.

“It’s such a horror show,” Mr. Schutt said of entering affected caves.

About 80 percent of deaths in caves he’s researched have been to the little brown bat species, he said.

“There are many other species that are affected, but this one is affected most,” he said.

People can help the local little brown bat population by putting up bat houses and planting wildflower gardens, he said.

Should you find a bat in the attic — especially during hibernation season — let it be, Mr. Schutt said. It will leave come spring, giving homeowners an opportunity to better secure the area.

For more information on bats or White Nose Syndrome visit www.savebats.org.

For more information about Sunday’s event, contact Peggy Lauber at
516-526-9095 or email info@northforkaudubon.org.

(Credit: Courtesy of Organization for Bat Conservation)

(Credit: Courtesy of Organization for Bat Conservation)

10/17/14 11:03am
A pedestrian was struck by a sedan at the corner of Wickham Avenue and Pike Street Friday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A pedestrian was struck by a sedan at the corner of Wickham Avenue and Pike Street Friday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A Mattituck High School student was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center Friday morning after being hit by a vehicle at the corner of Wickham Avenue and Pike Street, fire officials said.

The boy was listed in fair condition Friday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

(more…)

10/17/14 8:00am
Friends of the Big Duck Ranch vice president Fran Cobb (from left) in the Big Duck Museum's newly renovated barn with co-curators Lisa Dabrowski and David Wilcox. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Friends of the Big Duck Ranch vice president Fran Cobb (from left) in the Big Duck Museum’s newly renovated barn with co-curators Lisa Dabrowski and David Wilcox. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

It’s an industry that once defined the area. And while duck farming has faded over the past several decades, Friends of the Big Duck are determined to keep Long Island’s history in the business alive and well in Flanders for future generations to learn about.

“Most people have no idea how large the [duck] industry was out here,” said Lisa Dabrowski, co-curator of the Big Duck Museum, which opens its doors Saturday. “I am looking forward to seeing the reaction when visitors see how inspiring the industry really was.”  (more…)

10/12/14 6:00am

Perhaps it’s a leftover painkiller from recent dental work or a magical stress reliever saved for a future airplane ride.

Or maybe you just didn’t know what to do with it all.

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, a good time to take five minutes to check out your household’s stock of prescription medications and get rid of what’s no longer needed. You’d be surprised by what you might find. (more…)

10/11/14 8:00am
Barbara McAdam (right) sorts flags with the help of her husband, Tom (left), and Cutchogue United Methodist Church Pastor Richie King. Each flag will be fitted with a ribbon bearing a veteran's name and service information. Donations for more than 75 flags have already been collected. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Barbara McAdam (right) sorts flags with the help of her husband, Tom (left), and Cutchogue United Methodist Church Pastor Richie King. Each flag will be fitted with a ribbon bearing a veteran’s name and service information. Donations for more than 75 flags have already been collected. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Come November, the lawn in front of Cutchogue Presbyterian Church will become a field of American flags. Each will honor a fallen, deployed or returning soldier.  (more…)