Local gardeners batty about bats

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Approximately 20 residents attended a bat workshop at the Morinville Community Gardens garden at the United Church July 15. – Lucie Roy Photos

bats3by Morinville News Staff

Morinville – Backyard bats were the topic of a Morinville Community Gardens workshop held July 15 at the United Church gardens. The local gardening enthusiasts brought in Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development bat expert Dr. Margo Pybus to do a session on bats in general and building bat houses in particular. More than 20 residents attended the session, some to learn about bats, others to get down to the task of building their own bat house.

Morinville Community Gardens Education Coordinator Paula Collins organized the evening session to have Pybus, who is on staff with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, speak about bats and the myths related to them. Pybus is a provincial disease specialist who leads high-profile provincial wildlife disease surveillance and management programs and has written extensively about bats.

Collins and her fellow community gardeners argue bats are an integral part of the ecosystem, nighttime flyers capable of consuming more than 600 mosquitos and other pests per hour. They believe building a bat house in the backyard encourages bats to make a home in the community, thereby controlling mosquito and other pest populations.

While their bat expert provided general information on bats and their importance to the ecosystem, and dispelled a number of myths about them, participants who registered early had the opportunity to build a bat house to use in their own yards.

Participants learned it is important to place bat boxes in an elevated sunny location, preferably high up on a pole or in a tree that does not have a lot of branches below the box.

The Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development website lists nine bat species present in Alberta, three of which are likely to take up residency in a backyard bat house.

Those who missed the July 15 event can learn about bat houses by visiting http://esrd.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/bats/default.aspx

Above left: Brian Johnston builds his bat box.

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Dr. Margo Pybus spoke to the audience on bat myths and answered questions.

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Brody and his father Eric Pybus working on their bat house.

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