The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has canceled a popular bat observation program — held at two bridges in Tucson where the flying mammals roost — because of safety concerns.
People are still free to view bats on their own even though the organized program — held at a bridge over the Rillito River at North Campbell Avenue and one at the Pantano Wash at East 22nd Street — has been canceled.
“There was a concern about safety because there are Pima County bike paths at the two sites,” said Rosemary Prawdzik, director of marketing and sales for the museum.
“The crowds (of 75 or more people at any one time) kind of congregated along the bike paths, and it got to the point where the county was concerned about collisions with bicyclists and possible injuries.”
Prawdzik said the museum cooperated by canceling the so-called “bat bridge interpretation” program after a final one that took place on June 19.
“We’re not aware of any injuries or incidents,” she said. “This was pre-emptive.”
Nanette Slusser, assistant Pima County administrator, confirmed “there was a safety issue. However, we are not opposed to moving the group to a less-constricted vantage point.”
The free program, led by museum docents, had been held on Thursday evenings from early June through August in recent years.
“We want people to know about the cancellation,” Prawdzik said. “We don’t want them to go out there and be disappointed.”
She said museum officials hope to resume the program at another site.
“We need to find an observation point that doesn’t have the bike trail component,” she said. “In the meantime, we have live bats on-site at the museum. People can see them up-close.”