Photography Club to view bat documentary


Photo courtesy Pagosa Springs Photography Club
On Nov. 8, the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will view “Bat City USA,” a documentary directed by Pagosa Springs’ Laura Brooks.

By Gregg Heid | Pagosa Springs Photography Club

The Nov. 8 meeting of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will feature Laura Brooks, who will present her documentary “Bat City USA,” a video about how a Texas city overcame its fear of one of the world’s most misunderstood creatures, largely thanks to the efforts of one man. 

The club’s meeting will be held at the Community United Methodist Church. Come at 6 p.m. for socializing; the presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. 

A giant colony of Mexican free-tailed bats moved into an Austin, Texas, bridge in the 1980s after a bridge reconstruction project created an ideal roosting habitat. The “bat invasion” created a media hoopla and alarm among residents worried about rabies. 

When the city threatened to exterminate the bats, conservationist and bat researcher Merlin Tuttle stepped in and fought to save them. Tuttle moved to Austin, then the epicenter of “worldwide bad bat publicity,” and founded Bat Conservation International to promote a positive image of bats.

Tuttle worked tirelessly to overcome opposition and change the public’s perception of bats from disease carriers to desirable creatures that help keep bugs in check. Tuttle became a pioneering bat photographer for National Geographic, developing special techniques that showed bats not as snarling beasts, but as creatures engaged in their natural ways of feeding, flying and other behaviors. 

Tuttle used his striking photos as an important weapon in his battle to gain acceptance for the bats and their environmental benefits.

Thanks to Tuttle’s efforts, Austin now loves its bats. Each year, thousands of tourists are drawn to the downtown bridge for a close-up glimpse of one of the world’s largest urban bat colonies — at least 1 million bats.

The 54-minute documentary was directed by Brooks, a Pagosa Springs resident and member of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club. Brooks has worked for years as a journalist in Central and South America and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Following the presentation, club members may share and discuss up to five of their images per person with the group.

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club promotes educational, social and fun interactions between all who enjoy making and viewing great photography. The club sponsors educational programs and outings to help photographers hone their skills. We welcome photographers of all skill levels. 

For more information about the club, and to download a membership application, visit our website at