From May to October, Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area near Fredericksburg is home to approximately 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking volunteers to greet visitors and perform miscellaneous duties around the wildlife area.
Mexican free-tailed bats are the most common bat found throughout Texas. The bats are beneficial to Texans as they keep crop pests in check by eating up to two thirds of their body weight in insects every evening. With the large numbers of agricultural pests they eat, research has demonstrated that these bats can save farmers up to two applications of pesticides per year. In 1995, the Texas legislature named the Mexican free-tailed bat as the “state flying mammal.”
Volunteers who are interested in serving for any length of time are invited to attend training on Sunday, March 22. The training session will cover volunteer opportunities, operations, and an in-depth introduction to the bats of Texas. Incentives for volunteering include field trips to various bat sites in Texas and a cumulative award system based on hours worked.
The Old Tunnel WMA derives its’ name from the abandoned railroad tunnel that serves as a bat habitat in the property. The area is the smallest wildlife management area in Texas, containing only 16.1 acres of land. Despite its small size, there are a variety of recreational opportunities at Old Tunnel WMA. The WMA nature trail is open year-round. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, bird watching, and general wildlife-viewing.
Volunteers are required to fill out an application, sign a volunteer work agreement, and pass a criminal background check. Space is limited and advance registration is required.