After a long winter’s slumber, the bats that make their home in Hannibal’s caves have awakened and preparing to move on to their summer homes. That makes this the prime time to see the endangered Indiana bats before they migrate.

The Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a night hike through Sodalis Nature Preserve at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 23. The program will feature the life cycle of bats. Sodalis is home to the world’s largest population of the Indiana bat, which are on the endangered species list.

Bat scientists have been conducting a bat migration study to find out where the bats go in the summer. The researchers from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Missouri Department of Conservation temporarily captured 60 bats. The bats were caught in a lightweight mist net and were weighed and measured before getting miniature radio transmitters glued to their backs. The bats were then released back in Sodalis Nature Preserve.

Iwona Kuczynska, the lead wildlife biologist who coordinated the study, said the bats are being tracked with telemetry-equipped airplane and ground vehicles.

The night hike will have more information on the bat study. It lasts about two hours and follows a 2.5-mile paved trail but participants are welcome to stay for the first hour then return to the parking lot. Activities include seasonal observations, sensory activities and the telling of the creation of Sodalis Nature Preserve.

There will be a strict limit of 20 participants and reservations must be made by calling Hannibal Parks & Recreation at 221-0154 or by emailing mlrichards@hannibal-mo.gov.

Nature programs and hikes are led by Gale Rublee, a nationally certified interpreter guide with more than 30 years experience as a nature educator and storyteller. She is a founding member of the Mississippi Hills Missouri Master Naturalist Chapter in Hannibal. As a nationally certified interpreter guide, she loves interpreting natural and human history for Hannibal residents and visitors alike.