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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: March 8, 2006

Senator Owen Laughlin
   Sen. Owen Laughlin 

Senate Selects Bat as State’s Flying Mammal

The Senate on Wednesday chose the Mexican free-tailed bat – an unusual bat with a migratory pattern that has become in a huge tourist attraction for one Oklahoma state park – as the official state flying mammal of Oklahoma.

“This is really a tourism bill,” said Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, author of Senate Bill 1678, which recognizes the Mexican free-tailed bat, also known as Tadarida brasiliensis, as the state’s flying mammal. “The Selman Bat Cave out by Alabaster Caverns State Park is a great tourist attraction.”

Oklahoma is the breeding ground for the Mexican free-tailed bat, so named because of its long, skinny mouse-like tail. About one million bats migrate every summer from Mexico to caves in Oklahoma to bear young, before returning to Mexico in the fall. The swirling, black cloud of hundreds of thousands of bats that descends on the Selman Bat Cave each year makes for an unforgettable sight, and bat enthusiasts are able to enjoy a privileged look at the creature’s living habits, which include eating literally tons of insects during the night.

Not only does the Mexican free-tailed bat draw tourist dollars to Oklahoma, but it also cuts down on the mosquito population, noted Laughlin. The Selman Cave also serves as a “living lab” for researchers at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“This animal is good for Oklahoma, and should be our official flying mammal,” said Laughlin. “I encourage all Oklahomans to make a reservation to visit Alabaster Caverns State Park and take a tour of the Selman Bat Cave.”

SB 1678 will next be heard in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

For more information contact:
Senator Laughlin's Office - (405) 521-5626

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