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Annual hike studies nocturnal wildlife

GTNS photo by John Butters

A Conservation Board volunteer demonstrates how bats use sound to fly safely. The Halloween Hike was presented by the Washington County Conservation Board. The event was held at Marr Park on Saturday, Oct. 6.
GTNS photo by John Butters A Conservation Board volunteer demonstrates how bats use sound to fly safely. The Halloween Hike was presented by the Washington County Conservation Board. The event was held at Marr Park on Saturday, Oct. 6.
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Visitors to the Washington County Conservation Board’s annual Halloween Hike at Marr Park Saturday had the opportunity for a hands-on learning experience regarding nocturnal wildlife.

The theme this year was the Nocturnal Olympics and participants learned how their senses compare to those of animals active at night.

Conservation Board Naturalist Pam Holz set up numerous interactive displays inside the Conservation’s Education Center that offered children and their parents an entertaining look at the dark side of life in the wild. The annual hike was moved indoors due to Saturday’s weather conditions.

Moving between the exhibits, Holz stopped to survey the crowd. “It’s really going well,” she said. “The weather has been cooperating this evening. The children seem to be learning how animals can adapt to the night.”

Holz said she hoped the visitors learned some other things about wildlife as well. “We want education to be fun. We also want our students to be comfortable in nature at night. We don’t want them to be afraid. We want them to have an understanding of how wildlife moves through the dark. We want to build some emotional connections with this program.”

Participants moved in an at-your-own-pace adventure between 6:45 and 8 p.m. at the Center. The annual Halloween Hike is intended to be both fun and educational for the entire family. All ages were welcome to attend the free event.

Conservation Board volunteers guided the visitors through a series of displays that explained natural adaptions to the dark.

One display demonstrated a bat echo chamber. Another showed how sound can be used to find objects in the dark. Two darkrooms were set up for visitors to test their own senses at night.

Holz said she began working on the project in August and finished most of the preparations in September, but the heavy rains forced some last-minute work to move everything indoors.

Marr Park is located one mile west of Ainsworth and 6 miles east of Washington on Highway 92. For information on park activities, contact the Conservation Board at 319-657-2400.