Biologists net bats in Scottsdale, debunk myths while public watches

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Phoenix bat. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5] Phoenix bat. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5]

Bats are actually very clean animals. They don't like to fly in your hair. And very few – less than one percent – have rabies.

Those are a few of the surprising bat facts biologist Randy Babb shares with me while a team of volunteers sets up nets around the Rio Verde River in north Scottsdale Friday night.

About a half dozen times a year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department collects bats in nets, part of a long-term survey to gather data on the world’s only flying mammals.

For $25 a person, the public is invited to tag along. It’s a chance to get up close with the creatures.

For biologists like Babb, it’s a chance to change perceptions.

“These are incredibly important animals,” he said.

Bats are prolific pest controllers. Just one insect-eating bat can consume about 2,000 to 6,000 insects every night, according to the Organization for Bat Conservation.

For that reason, bats provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit to the agricultural industry, Babb said.

Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, second only to Texas.

After researchers net a bat, they record its size, sex, and species. Participants can snap a few photos. Then, the bat is released, unharmed.

The next surveys are on July 28 and September 15. For more information or to register, click here.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

Click to learn more about Derek.

Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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