In honor of the annual international Bat Week, which runs through Halloween, Oregon and Washington’s Bureau of Land Management offices host the event to raise awareness for bat conservation.
According to the bureaus, the number of bats in both Oregon and Washington is declining because they are “very vulnerable to human disturbance.” The beauty contest is meant to highlight the essential role the species play in the local ecosystem by eating insects like mosquitoes, beetles and moths.
“We hope the contest is fun, and we also hope it increases people’s appreciation of these creatures,” Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Donald Manuszewski said. “Bats aren’t just beautiful, they’re also in need of our protection.”
This year, the offices say they think the winner could be a Townsend’s big-eared bat from Butte Falls named William ShakespEAR. In 2022, a canyon bat named Barbara from Lake County won the contest.
“We feel confident that William will bring us home the crown,” Manuszewski said. “He has the most beautiful ears.”