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Naturalists bat box program up in the air

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The first box is already in place, and others are planned this summer

The first of many bat boxes planned for the Whistler area went up on May 16 in the wetlands behind the Meadow Park Sports Centre, and is open for tenants.

The double box was build by John Willis, who also supplied the material, and mounted on a pair of five metre posts with the help of Randy Symons of the municipal parks department.

The boxes can accommodate up to 500 bats, although it could be years before we see that many bats.

"I am concerned I may not have selected the ideal spot because of the potential for strong winds there, but, with luck, mothers and pups will move in this year or perhaps next," said Stephane Perron, who is leading the drive to install bat boxes for the Whistler Naturalists.

"In any case, the box is very visible and should help raise awareness about bats in our valley."

The Naturalists have already raised money through Pick-Up Day to start funding the bat box project, and are looking for skilled volunteers to help build them. It’s a little more challenging than a bird house, says Perron, but it is still not that difficult.

According to bat expert Dr. Mark Brigham of the University of Regina, who was in Whistler a few weeks ago as part of the Naturalists’ monthly speaker series, there are probably five or six different species of bats in the valley. The nocturnal mammals can eat their own weight in insects every day, which means the new bat box should help to reduce the number on insects attacking ball players and visitors to Meadow Park.

Volunteer builders can get involved by contacting Stephane Perron at stef@whooshnet.com. Future bat box projects will be announced by the Whistler Naturalists.

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