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Bat Appreciation Day at Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine

Celebrate history and bats with us on September 12, 2021!

Northern Long-eared BatJoin 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 an event to be held on September 12, 2021, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, at the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby. Bat Appreciation Day will highlight the story of one of Connecticut’s most intriguing historical sites and its importance to the conservation of endangered species. In years past, Bat Appreciation Day has been held on-site at the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine. In 2020, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually online and featured bat activities for the whole family. Many of the activities from the virtual event are still listed on this webpage.

In 2021, we will again be holding an in-person event that will feature bat activities for the whole family and include exhibits, bat story time, historical tales, the unique opportunity to sneak a peek at the “bat cave”, a bat craft “door prize” for kids, a free entry for a chance to win a fun door prize, and a chance to see a live bat up close. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and to promote social distancing, certain activities will be limited in size. To keep everybody safe, including the bats, we strongly encourage everyone to wear masks when social distancing is not possible or anytime indoors and while touring the mine. For those who do not wish to attend in person, we will be live-streaming certain activities from our Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Facebook page and will post additional bat-tastic information right here.

Agenda for Bat Day 2021
Bat-tastic Activities for Kids and Families to Do at Home
Crafts and Recipes
Videos from the Virtual Bat Appreciation Days in 2020
Bats at Old New-Gate Prison and Coppermine
Learn More About Bats 

Agenda for Bat Day 2021

PDF version to print at home and bring with you

Story Time - 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm
Join us on the lawn outside the chapel for a kid’s book all about bats

Five-Senses Hike - 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm
Meet at the Guard House Entrance for a hike around the grounds while exploring your five senses.

Mine Tour - See the ticket you received when you paid your entry fee for your scheduled time.
(Details on entry fees)
Take an underground tour of a former prison/copper mine/current bat hibernaculum.

Befriending Bats
Wildlife rehabilitator Maureen Heidtmann and Master Conservationist Gerri Griswold will help you meet some bats up close and personal.

Bats of New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine
Drop by to learn about the bat species that call New-Gate their winter home.

White-nose Syndrome
Learn about a devastating wildlife disease that threatens bats across North America.

Ask the Expert
Visit with DEEP wildlife biologists to satisfy your deep curiosities about bats.

How You Can Help
Bats need your help. Learn small steps you can take.

Take the Fun with You - 2:30 pm and beyond
Check your door prize kit you received upon entry to make a fun bat mask and batty Halloween decorations. Join us for the grand prize drawing for your chance to win your very own bat house. Entry is part of your admission.

Bat-tastic Activities for Kids and Families to Do at Home

Learn about bat houses and get tips on installing a bat house in your yard from this video posted on the CT Fish and Wildlife Facebook page.

Bat Bingo: Families can try to make a "bingo" with this fun activity about bats!

Learn about echolocation while playing the Bat and Moth Game.

Bat Kid's and Coloring Page

Creature Crafts: Toilet Paper Tube Bat (YouTube video) -- Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife outreach staff member Gabby DeMeillon shares some info about bat conservation and demonstrates how to make a simple bat craft out of a toilet paper tube!

Crafts and Recipes

Child wearing a bat mask she created.Color and cut out a Bat Mask. Pick from 4 designs, courtesy of Bat Conservation International:

California leaf-nosed bat mask
Grey-headed flying-fox mask
Sword-nosed bat mask
Dobson's horseshoe bat mask

7 Best Recipes for Bat Appreciation Days!
Bats, especially many found in deserts and the Tropics, are important pollinators. Here are 7 recipes (plus one just for adults) using bat-pollinated plants to enjoy each day during “Bat Week”. The bat-pollinated food is shown in italics. Follow the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine Instagram for creative recipe posts throughout the week.

Videos from the Virtual Bat Appreciation Days in 2020

All videos were either pre-recorded or livestreams that are posted on our Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Facebook page.

  • Bat Appreciation Days Introduction - Wildlife Division Supervising Biologist Brian Hess provides an introduction about bats and the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine.
  • Mobile Acoustic Bat Survey - Brian Hess also presented a livestream of a Bat Monitoring and Acoustic Survey. Brian drove a survey route and demonstrated how special equipment captures the acoustic sounds of bats. Along the way, he explained why the Wildlife Division is collecting the information and how it helps bats.
  • Brian and Morgan Bengel, with the CT Department of Economic and Community Development and site manager for the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine, gave a live presentation about the bats that live at the historic site; discussed how the Wildlife Division monitors the bats; and provided a pre-sunset tour of our nation's oldest state prison. (link to video)
  • Bat Appreciation Days - Bat Houses - Wildlife Biologists Brian Hess and Kate Moran discuss some tips for installing a bat house. (Bat House Plans)
  • Tips on Bat Exclusion - How to live with bats in your attic.
  • Bats for Kids -- A great video where kids can learn about bats.
Bats at Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine

Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine 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.

An aerial view of Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine.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.

Bat Appreciation Days offers the perfect opportunity to experience the remarkable history of Old New-Gate Prison through the lens of the state-endangered bats who have claimed it as their winter home. Little brown, tri-colored, and northern long-eared bats have all used this site to hibernate during the winter months. DECD and DEEP are diligently working to protect this site, and it is imperative to tell the story of the bats, the history of the site, and its importance for conservation efforts in the future.

Listen to a report by WNPR Connecticut Public Radio about the Wildlife Division's ongoing efforts to monitor Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine.

Follow Old New-Gate Prison and Coppermine on Facebook

Take an aerial tour of the prison and copper mine

Take a virtual tour of the copper mine

Learn More About Bats

There is so much to learn about bats and how you can help them. Check out the following resources for interesting natural history information, how to build a bat house, descriptions of Wildlife Division research and monitoring efforts, and so much more.

DEEP's Bat Program

Bat Fact Sheet (includes plans on how to build a bat house) (PDF version)

Living with Bats (advice if you have bats living in your house or outbuildings)

Teaching About Bats (A resource for educators and parents to teach children about bats)

Articles in Connecticut Wildlife Magazine:

Bat Appreciation Day at Old-Newgate Prison and Coppermine
Rediscovering a Long-lost Bat
Little Brown Bat Colony Discovered at White Memorial
Sparks Fly for Bat Conservation
Listening to Bats - A Glimpse into the Night
Denizens of Darkness: Facts and Fables about Bats
What You Didn't Know About Bats
White-nose Syndrome Devastates CT's Hibernating Bats
Bad News for Bat Conservation

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Content last updated September 10, 2021.