Clockwise from left: The Bat Cave (also known as the Genzlingers’ basement); feeding time: mealworms are a favorite; a little brown bat suffering from white-nose syndrome
in a cave in Vermont in 2009. The fungus has decimated little brown bat populations.
per minute. . . . Okay, here you go.” Genzlinger opens his hand
and nothing happens. A little push and the bat flaps its wings
and glides to the ground. “Lazy butts, that’s what happens when
you’ve had too many mealworms. This guy weighs 14. 25 grams,
a bit overweight.” He picks Green Toes up and places him on a
branch; a few minutes later, the bat flies away. Better to be overweight than underweight.
By the time we get to the Winooski release site, the sun is
down, and mosquitos let us know we are close to the river. It
promises to be a good night for hunting.
All of the releases were of big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus,
but back at the bat cave, a little brown, Myotis lucifugus, is
recovering from white-nose syndrome. No obvious fungus on
its nose, but another condition, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), is rapidly degrading the bat’s wings.
The bat is in quarantine. The odds are not in his favor. Not
discouraged, Barry applies Lamisil spray – a fungicide – every
day, and charts the bat’s weight and eating patterns. Collecting
data is essential for guiding future practices.
A lot of things in Genzlinger’s life prepared him to become
a bat rehabilitator. There was the orphaned raccoon that he
and Mo raised while they were also raising their three children
– Barry teaching high school math, and Mo teaching kindergarten and first grade. The raccoon came and went through the
cat door and enjoyed riding off into the woods on the back of
their pet husky. Eventually, it brought home a girlfriend and,
shortly thereafter, never came back. There was the baby squirrel
Genzlinger raised and kept in a drawer in his college dorm. He
was an active Boy Scout as a kid and raced sled dogs as an adult,
so it’s not surprising that Genzlinger has found a way to stay
connected to nature.
When bats roosted in the eaves outside their first house in
Goshen, New Hampshire, and made a mess of the porch, the
Genzlingers didn’t have to find a way to coexist with the bats,
but they did. And they didn’t stop there. They built a bat house
and soon got hooked up with Bat Conservation International,
which was sponsoring a National Bat House Research Project to