Published July 21, 2011, 12:00 AM

The real bat man coming to Dickinson for research

Batman and Robin are well known as superheroes. But there is a different Batman and Robin traveling the Midwest.

By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press

Batman and Robin are well known as superheroes. But there is a different Batman and Robin traveling the Midwest.

Working with bats might seem like a dirty job to some people, but for Joseph Poissant it’s all about migration and hibernation. He’ll be in Dickinson next week.

Poissant, a graduate student and researcher from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, is looking for homes with bats. Poissant is in his third summer of collecting bat samples. He is accompanied by assistant Tom Allen from the United Kingdom.

“I’m looking for how the species of big, brown bats are related to one another in the Great Plains,” Poissant said during a phone interview while in Kansas. “So I’m sampling populations in Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Kansas. I’ll probably branch out to Nebraska next summer.”

The University of Regina researcher is interested in finding out how the animals came to the Midwest. Poissant catches the bats and takes a small skin sample. This skin sample is used to help him figure out the relatives of the bats.

Poissant spent the last two years in Saskatchewan. This is his first trip collecting in the United States. His journey has taken him primarily to the Midwest from North Dakota to Kansas.

“The reason why I’m sampling over such a large area, if the animals aren’t migrating over longer periods of time, there will be genetic differences,” Poissant said. “If they are migrating between places I’m sampling, they will be more closely related.”

Poissant first go around in Dickinson didn’t result in much luck, but he’s hoping for that luck to change. He’ll be arriving in Dickinson early next week.

“I’ve had a lot of success,” Poissant said. “I was just talking with my assistant and we’ve caught 22 or 23 bats.”

Bat calls don’t happen too often for Dickinson Animal Control Officer Vern Nelson. He dealt with minimal reports per year.

“Some years I get one and some none,” Nelson said. “The next year I’ll get two. This year I haven’t had a thing with bats.”

Dickinson resident Susie Kapelovitz has a different opinion on the bat situation. She’s remembers multiple accounts over the years.

“There are bats, The Dickinson Press had bats in their old build, when the building downtown,” Kapelovitz said. “I’ve heard that some of the houses on the lake that are vacated during the winter had bats inside the house.”

Kapelovitz could be considered the bat expert around the Dickinson area.

“If people have a problem with bats, they usually call me,” she said. “It usually one that got in the house that found its way down the chimney or flew in an open window.”

Poissant isn’t removing the bats completely from the home, but using a large net to catch the bats to take a skin sample. He has been advising people on how to properly remove bats from homes and buildings.

“We’ve made suggestions on how to exclude them from the premises,” Poissant said. “We’ll give them some ideas and a timeline on how to exclude the bats from the house.”

If anyone knows where bats are in Dickinson, contact Poissant at ayresx@gmail.com.

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