FREEDOM, Okla. (KFOR) – After 26 seasons, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is pausing its Selman Bat Watch program.

During the bat watch, visitors observe migratory Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from Selman Bat Cave at dusk to feed on flying insects.

Now, officials say the program is on hold indefinitely while the department analyzes the experience’s merit.

“Over the next few months, we will be taking a detailed look at how we can best serve our outdoor constituents with outreach programs like these and how we can most effectively manage wildlife resources across the state,” said Kurt Kuklinski, Wildlife Diversity Supervisor. “We are so thankful for the incredible team of volunteers and conservation partners, and the leadership of recently retired Selman Bat Watch coordinator Melynda Hickman, that made each and every bat watch a success. Without their dedication and support, we wouldn’t have been able to share this experience with thousands of visitors.”

Though public visits to Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area are on hold, the Wildlife Department says it will continue to conserve the area’s healthy population of Mexican free-tailed bats and their sensitive cave habitat.

Unregistered visitors aren’t allowed onsite to keep human disturbance of the habitat to a minimum.

The Wildlife Department bought Selman Bat Cave and the surrounding 340 acres of land in 1995 with funds donated to the Wildlife Diversity Program and from hunting and fishing license revenue.