Holy Bat Boxes, Swanton

At last night’s Swanton Village Council meeting, Swanton resident Aden Dzierzawski,  a Senior at St. John’s Jesuit High School & Academy, gave a presentation regarding Eagle Scout service project, working with his troop to build four bat boxes which will be installed in two of the Village’s municipal parks.  According to Aden, the bat boxes, which were on display at the meeting, will house approximately 50 bats and will take about six years to be fully populated.

As Aden wrote in his proposal, “Bats are beneficial to the environment by helping keep the insect population under control”.  Bats can eat up to 100 mosquitoes or more a night.  Most likely, Aden’s project will have a far greater impact than just having a few less pesky mosquitos to swat away.

According to an article by the Earth Day Network, American bats are disappearing. Bat populations have sharply declined in the last decade, losing a third to a half of the total population. But what caused this change that led many bats to be classified as endangered? The answer is simple: a fungus.

The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a cold-loving organism that infects the bat’s skin, spreads through bat-to-bat and human-to-bat interaction, the latter being extremely common when bats hibernate.

The fungus was first observed in 2006 in Howes Cave near Albany, New York, and has since spread as far west as Texas. The fungus has already killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7 million American bats.

Bats are valuable parts of both ecosystems and economies, contributing more than 3 billion dollars to the U.S. economy alone. Bats are also central to American agriculture, eating insects and pests and pollinating flowering plants, trees and cash crops.

Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said she expects the bat houses to be installed this Spring with the help of the Village’s bucket trucks.

Pictured:  With the boxes, Mayor Neil Toeppe and Aden Dzierzawski Back Row:  Councilmembers Dianne Westhoven, Dave Pilliod, Derek Kania, Patrick Messenger, Samantha Disbrow, Mikey Disbrow

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