Bats are pollinators, like bees and hummingbirds, said Jennifer Maiolo, parent of Derek Maiolo, the club’s president.
As they go from plant to plant, collecting tasty nectar or pollen, they cross-pollinate, which leads to heartier and healthier plants.
“It helps diversify plants and keeps a good healthy plant population, as well,” Maiolo said.
So, it makes sense that the club, which is largely comprised of children raising livestock for the Moffat County Fair, would take on a project designed to protect the furry, flying mammals.
If you are interested in building your own bat shelter, you should check out the woodworking plans website, where you can download over 20 different plans for bat shelters.
“We’re pretty agriculture based,” said Lorrae Moon, the club’s head leader, “and so this kind of goes along with what they’re doing … making food for America.
“If we don’t have pollinators, then we don’t have crops, and then we don’t … have feed for our animals. So it’s kind of just a big circle.”
On Thursday, they built 12 bat boxes, or small structures in which bats can nest.
The bat boxes will eventually be donated to the Nature Conservancy at the Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden.
These structures measure only about 3 to 4 inches deep, Moon said, but they’re large enough to shelter the bats and protect them from predators.
Maiolo brushed up on her bat knowledge in preparation for the project. Her research revealed that times are tough for these tiny creatures.
Bats are prone to a scourge called white-nose syndrome. It’s caused by a white fungus that can grow on bats’ noses, wings, ears or tails, and it can prematurely rouse bats from hibernation, causing them to starve to death in the dead of winter, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s website.
The mysterious affliction is on the verge of entering Colorado, the Denver Post reported. If it does, populations of insects like mosquitoes and flies could surge without bats to keep them in check.
The project “really opened up our eyes” to some of the problems that plague local wildlife, especially animals that are lesser known and “aren’t cute and cuddly,” said Ripley Bellio, 15, one of the club’s members.
By building bat boxes, the Elkhead Wranglers tried to give bats whatever leg up they could.
“We were trying to promote a healthy bat population,” Maiolo said.
Many Elkhead Wranglers members initially weren’t aware of bats’ role as pollinators, she said. Once they got into the project, though, they liked it.
“They were really excited, I think, to build these boxes,” she said. “And, they did a fantastic job. The couple kids that I asked about it said they really enjoyed it and they had a great time
Source: Craig Daily Press