October 24 is the kick-off to Bat Week, an international celebration of the role bats play in nature. Did you know, bats are one of the most important animals in our environment? Bats are vital to the health of our environment and economy by controlling pest populations, pollinating flowers and spreading seeds to grow new plants and trees.
Many bat species are threatened with extinction, with more than 250 species identified as endangered or vulnerable globally. Two endangered bat species have been identified to potentially occur at the Gordie Howe International Bridge Canadian and US Ports of Entry - the Little Brown Bat and Northern Long-eared Bat.
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is taking steps to ensure that these bat species and other wildlife adjacent to the project are protected during construction. To effectively manage and relocate bat species at risk (SAR) if found on-site, all contractors are required to take SAR training. Pre-construction surveys are conducted prior to any vegetation clearing or demolition and bat-specific surveys are completed if potential bat habitat is identified. Additional surveys and/or acoustic monitoring is then conducted if suitable roosting and foraging habitat is observed.
If a SAR bat is discovered on-site, work temporarily stops, a buffer is established and a SAR bat specialist would capture and coordinate release to nearby suitable habitat with a local rescue centre.
Step outside around dusk and take a look in your neighborhood for these fascinating animals. Learn more about bats in the Windsor-Detroit area through the Ojibway Nature Centre www.ojibway.ca or the Organization for Bat Conservation www.batconservation.org.