You’ve heard of a barn raising, but how about a bat condo raising? That’s what happened last week in Colchester, when Green Mountain Power partnered with Vermont Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Forests, Parks and Recreation and citizens to install a new bat condo to give endangered little brown bats a safe habitat and help their recovery in Vermont.
The bat condo was designed and created by Joe Gardner, who funded, built and donated the structure with assistance from Barry Genzlinger, bat house designer and licensed bat rehabilitator. It looks like a monitor barn set on top of power poles and will provide shelter to thousands of bats, provide a spot for raising young and offer safety from predators.
“This was a thrilling moment to see the bat condo lifted into place,” Joe Gardner said. “Bats are wonderful creatures, and hopefully this continues to help them recover. I’m happy to do my part to help and am so thankful to the state, GMP and all the groups helping make this a reality.”
Last year, GMP helped install a similar bat condo built by Gardner in Kinglsand Bay State Park. Green Mountain Power lineworkers set poles last Friday and used a bucket truck to lift the condo onto the poles.
“Our team is so excited to be part of this important work to protect our state’s bat population by providing safe habitat,” said Kristin Carlson, GMP vice president of strategic and external affairs. “Partnerships like this reinforce that we all have a stake in protecting endangered and threatened species and together we can make a big difference.”
Bats live in some of the public buildings on Troy Avenue in Colchester, and installing the bat condo means they will have a long-term secure habitat. Bats live into their 20s and 30s and return to the same place year after year, so the new bat condo will provide the opportunity for the bat population in the area to grow.
Big brown bats, which are not endangered, might also use the bat condo. Biologists say a single bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes and other pests, and also help fertilize plants.
“The best way for us to help recover little brown bats is to protect the survivors, so securing these summer roosts where they each raise only one young per year is incredibly important,” Fish and Wildlife bat biologist Alyssa Bennett said. “We really appreciate Green Mountain Power’s help installing the new bat home. The fate of this species may depend largely on the generosity of concerned citizens like Joe Gardner and partnerships with organizations and businesses like Green Mountain Power.”
The little brown bat is now endangered in Vermont as a result of the deadly fungal disease White-nose Syndrome. The population has declined by 90 percent in the past few years, but ongoing monitoring efforts around the state show the population is stabilizing. Fish and Wildlife officials provide guidance to property owners who want to safely evict unwanted bats in buildings, along with recommendations on proper bat house design and placement with the goal of conserving this endangered species.
To learn more about this and other efforts, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com/learn_more/living_with_wildlife/got_bats.