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OUTDOOR NOTES / PETE THOMAS

Not Every Bat Wants to Suck Your Blood

August 02, 1995|PETE THOMAS

They come out at dusk and fly erratically in the night sky. With pointed teeth and hairy wings, they swoop about like the blood-sucking demons they're perceived to be.

They are bats. And as they do every summer, they emerge from their roosts in caves, mines and crevices looking for things to put the bite on.

But fear not, wildlife experts say.

Bats, in this part of the world anyway, aren't out for blood. Nor do they all carry rabies. Nor will they drive you batty.

"The most common myth is that bats get tangled up in your hair and make you go crazy," said Steven Bissell, a bat man with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Bissell pointed out that only a very small percentage of bats--fewer than 1% in many states--have rabies and that the animals are actually among the most beneficial creatures to man. Little brown bats, for example, can consume more than 600 mosquitoes an hour and between 3,000 and 5,000 a night.

An Arizona Game and Fish Dept. news release said: "Loss of bats increases the demand for chemical pesticides and can jeopardize whole ecosystems of other animal and plant species. For example, tropical bats are key elements in rain forest ecosystems, which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs."

Of course, it doesn't help the bats' image that they fly with mouth open and teeth bared. But they can't help themselves, having to navigate with high-frequency sounds emitted from nose and mouth.

For these reasons, bats have always had a bad rap.

The ancient Mayans of Central America believed the animals were gods of darkness and the underworld, and, says Bissell, Aesop's fables called the little beasts "unscrupulous liars that manipulated other animals toward evil."

Not all bats are so misunderstood, however.

"There is a group of bats found in Latin America that does feed on blood and on rare occasions attacks humans," a Colorado Division of Wildlife news release said. "However, there are only three species out of approximately 900 found throughout the world that live on blood."

*

The tuna are still frustrating anglers and skippers aboard one-day boats out of San Diego, filtering into range of the fleet, then disappearing again.

There has been no substantial bite for several days within 100 miles. Skippers of multiday boats, however, are reporting excellent fishing for 20- to 40-pound bluefin and smaller yellowfin tuna at 160-plus miles.

Highlighting that action was the first catch of the giant bluefins, six fish between 134 and 169 pounds, aboard the Royal Star.

Topping local action was the first significant showing of yellowfin tuna north of the border last Wednesday.

Tom Pateirno, skipper of the charter boat Limitless out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, put five anglers into a school of tuna at the 43-fathom spot 50 miles south-southwest of the landing. All five caught their five-fish limits of fish running 20 to 38 pounds.

"We didn't have fish on the boat until 1 o'clock," Pateirno said. "It was a real slow morning, and all of the sudden we were getting quadruple jig strikes. For some reason, they didn't want the bait. Every one was a jig fish."

Unfortunately, the fish haven't cooperated since.

*

There's no big showing of blue marlin yet off Cabo San Lucas, which has some tournament organizers and competitors concerned, with several events scheduled in the next few months.

But there is greater reason to be concerned, according to Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet: People are slaughtering the more abundant striped marlin.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of first-time anglers in town who insist on keeping baby stripers from 40 to 90 pounds," she said.

*

Southern California Ducks and Southern California Woods Ducks are holding a sporting clays competition Sunday at Raahauge's Shotgun Sports Complex in Chino. Cost is $50 a shooter, with proceeds earmarked for a wood duck program that since 1989 has installed more than 300 nest boxes throughout the Southland. Details: (714) 472-0663 or (310) 926-3511.

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