Bat Appreciation Days at Old New Gate Prison and Copper Mine Virtual Events
Celebrate History and Bats!
Join the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Wildlife Division and Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for a celebration of bat conservation during a virtual event to be held from August 31 through September 4, 2020. This event will highlight the story of one of Connecticut’s most intriguing historical sites, the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine, and its importance to the conservation of endangered species.
Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby is our nation’s oldest state prison. It is also the first operating copper mine in the North American colonies. Today, it is not just an amazing cultural resource – its underground tunnels are the winter home of several state endangered bat species.
The bats of Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine are considered “cave bats”, in part because they hibernate underground in caves and mines. Cave bats are affected by the disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS). In less than 10 years since its initial detection in New York, WNS has killed millions of bats throughout the Northeast and has spread to and been documented in 35 states and seven Canadian provinces.
To raise awareness for the plight of bats and their importance to our ecosystem and economy, the DEEP Wildlife Division and the DECD Office of Culture and Tourism have joined forces to host the fourth annual Bat Appreciation Day. In years past, Bat Appreciation Day was held on-site at the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby. This year, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the event will go online and last all week. It will still feature bat activities for the whole family, including videos and webinars, crafts, recipes that include bat pollinated food items, houses for bats, a virtual tour of New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine, live-stream video of DEEP Wildlife Division biologists conducting acoustic bat surveys, and more.
“We are excited to be partnering with DEEP,” said Morgan Bengel, site manager of Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine. “Bat Appreciation Days provide the perfect opportunity to showcase our facility and connect people with its cultural and natural history.”
“This is a great chance to experience the remarkable history of Old New-Gate Prison through the lens of the state-endangered bats who rely on it as their winter home,” said Jenny Dickson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director. “Little brown, tri-colored, and northern long-eared bats, along with the more common big brown bat, have all used this site to hibernate during the winter months. DECD and DEEP are diligently working to protect this site, and we are looking forward to telling the story of the bats, the history of the site, and its importance for conservation efforts in the future.”
For more information on Bat Appreciation Days and the upcoming schedule, visit our special webpage at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Wild-Activities/Bats-at-Old-New-Gate-Prison-Virtual-Event.