SDSS students learn construction and make a difference to the environment

MacGregor Point Provincial Park is helping the ‘little brown bat’ population with the help of Saugeen District Senior School Construction students.

Park staff approached teacher Bud Halpin to see if the students, well recognized throughout the community for their participation in many construction facilities, could help the Park by building a ‘bat house’.

MacGregor Park provided a contact name at the University of Wisconsin where the Urban Ecology Centre has focused on bats and conservation efforts.

Bats are gaining international attention as important insectivores that protect crops, gardens, and forests from insect pests and reduce economic and public health costs of pesticide application. But these ecosystem services are vulnerable as cave-hibernating bats are threatened by White Nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that causes them to expel energy reserves. This is in addition to threats of habitat loss, pesticide application, and wind turbines.

Teacher Bud Halpin said they acquired plans through University for the construction of a proper bat house which is very detailed for a variety of reasons.

Reproductive females form maternity colonies in buildings, bat houses, and tree hollows and select sites based on ambient temperature and shelter. These colonies can number 300-1200 bats (adults and offspring), but can reach up to 3000.  Because both sexes of bats, males and females choose roost sites based on proximity to water as they prefer to forage along shorelines, MacGregor Park is a popular spot.

They also prefer hot and humid roosting sites and, therefore, the new bat house is painted a flat black that will absorb the sun’s rays and create internal warmth.

In addition, the inside of the bat house is very specific with vertical slats that provide a ‘cozy’ place where the bats can feel safe.

                                  Inside a ‘bat house’ with its vertical slats

For larger views, Click on Images

The house will eventually be 16 ft. high after being installed on 12 ft. ‘stilts’.

                  Bluebird houses

Halpin says that approximately 40 students helped, to not only construct the major bat house, but to also create ‘bluebird’ houses for another endangered species. In addition to learning building techniques, the students are also learning that they are making a difference when it comes to helping the environment and various species.

For anyone interested in acquiring either a small ‘bat house’ or ‘bluebird house’, contact SDSS at 519-832-2091.

(*featured photo at MacGregore by Tomasz Adamski)