So I figured it was about time to announce some info on the show I'm working on right now. Mike and I decided to do this show late this summer while making plans to go hiking and see one of the largest bat populations in our area leave their roost at dusk in Canoe Creek. We called the park to see if it was too late in the season to see them and were told "Most of our bats are dead. White Nose syndrome. Sorry." This is a population of bats that in 2006 was around 3,000 in a single roost. It's always pretty crushing to hear about extinction on the march but it really hits home when it's so local and affects animals you grew up around and are so accustomed to seeing and wrongly assumed you would always see.
White Nose syndrome is caused by a cold-loving fungus that grows on the faces and bodies of hibernating bats, causing neurological damage and causing them to awaken from hibernation and leave their roost at which point they starve to death. Fungal spores are hard to contain and built to survive and the spread from cave to cave is rapid with fatalities in affected areas around 98% and in some communities 100%. It's estimated to have killed more than 5.7 million bats since just 2006 and to make matters worse, with the slow reproduction rate of bats even if the death stopped NOW it would take at best 200 years for bat populations to return to previous numbers. All of that damage done in just SIX YEARS.
One of the issues that further complicates bat conservation is the general perception of bats reinforced in hollywood:
and the misconception that bats are largely responsible for the spread of rabies. In general the lack of interest in conservation for animals that aren't deemed "cute"(come on, really?) or useful to humans (though bats are VERY useful) or are considered dangerous (one of the issues affecting shark conservation, and issues related to wolves and wild dogs) is indicative of the larger attitude most people have towards animals; the idea that they exist for our use or amusement to be tamed by us or that animals that are threatening to us simply because of the way they exist in nature don't deserve to exist at all. As a result there's a lack of concern for what is a genuine natural eradication happening right under our noses (and not just to bats obviously, I'm talking about the entire natural world here).
I realize that part of the mystique of bats which attracts me to them as a horror movie loving, death rock creep bag is also responsible for some of the struggle involved in conservation and I feel like after a life-time of exploiting and enjoying bat imagery it's time to turn it into something advantageous for bats at a time when they need help the most. The proceeds from the show we're planning will be donated to Bat Conservation International and all the artists participating will be making new work or donating old work related to bats and using bat imagery. So far everyone seems really excited and we're just getting to the stage where we're finalizing a list of participating artists (which so far, is HUGE). We've had two shows like this in Philadelphia so far(For those to Come and From Whence we Came which was organized by Ryann who's helping with this show too), both of which I've participated in and they've both raised a ton of money and probably a good amount of awareness.
The show opening will be on 4/20 (harrrrharrrr) at Grindcore House here in Philadelphia and it'll be up for 2 months. We're working on planning some kind of movie night and also some purchasable items to help raise money. In the meantime I highly suggest checking out this half hour special called "The Race to save Pennsylvania's Bats"
Check out our artist list so far:
Sarah Grocholski Breitenstein
Jeanne D'Angelo (duh)