EAST GRANBY — Join Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division biologists and Department of Economic and Community Development staff for a celebration of bat conservation at the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine. This event will highlight the story of one of Connecticut’s most intriguing historical sites and its importance to the conservation of endangered species.

Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby is our nation’s oldest state prison. It is also the first operating copper mine in the North American colonies. Today, it is not just an amazing cultural resource — its underground tunnels are the winter home of several state endangered bat species.

The bats of Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine are considered “cave bats,” in part because they hibernate underground in caves and mines. Cave bats are affected by the disease known as white-nose syndrome. In less than 10 years since its initial detection in New York, WNS has killed millions of bats throughout the Northeast and has spread to and been documented in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

To raise awareness for the plight of bats and their importance to our ecosystem and economy, the DEEP Wildlife Division and the DECD Office of Culture and Tourism have joined forces to host the third annual Bat Appreciation Day at Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will feature bat activities for the whole family and include exhibits, arts and crafts, bat story time, historical tales, the unique opportunity to sneak a peek at the “bat cave,” and a chance to see a live bat up close.

“We are excited to be partnering with DEEP,” said Morgan Bengel, site manager of Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine. “Bat Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to showcase our facility and connect people with its cultural and natural history.”

“This is a great chance to experience the remarkable history of Old New-Gate Prison through the lens of the state-endangered bats who have claimed it as their winter home,” said Jenny Dickson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director. “Little brown, tri-colored, and northern long-eared bats have all used this site to hibernate during the winter months. DECD and DEEP are diligently working to protect this site, and we are looking forward to telling the story of the bats, the history of the site, and its importance for conservation efforts in the future.”

For more information on Bat Appreciation Day and directions to Old New-Gate Prison and Coppermine, visit: www.portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Historic-Preservation/04_State_Museums/Old-Newgate-Prison-and-Copper-Mine. Learn more about Connecticut’s bats on the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife.

Connecticut Media Group