Bat boxes installed near Oregon to protect species
OREGON – Not everybody loves bats.
In fact, many people are creeped out by the flying mammals that come out at night and snack on insects.
Magnolia Rain Goodin is not one of those people. In fact, the 18-year-old from Elk Grove Village recently worked on a service project aimed at creating bat habitat in Better Place Forests on the Rock River near Oregon.
Better Place Forests opened last year on 60 acres just north of Lowden State Park and the Lorado Taft NIU Campus on River Road. It creates conservation memorial forests, where cremains are spread beneath a tree purchased by an individual or family.
It is also interested in conservation of all kinds, and Goodin’s bat project – part of her process in earning Eagle Scout – was a perfect fit.
Goodin sat down and answered a few questions about the project.
Question: What got you interested in helping bat populations?
Answers: I have a history of speaking for those without a voice, and a passion for wildlife protection and conservation. My freshman year of high school, I petitioned and eventually worked with maintenance staff to place stickers on the large windows around my school to help migratory birds that would fly into the windows in confusion and not be able to make their journey. Since then, the window stickers are still in place and sightings of deceased birds in those areas have ceased.
Following this logic, when it came time for me to complete a requirement to earn my Eagle Scout rank, being a service project, I was informed that building bat houses to help conserve these animals during their migratory period would be greatly beneficial for their population. Brown bats, Eastern red bats, Northern long-eared myotis, and tri-colored bats are a few of the typical Illinois bat species that tend to require shelter during the warmer months as they raise their young, called pups. Seeing as they are an endangered species and that they keep insects like pesky mosquitoes at bay, I was more than happy to set my sights on assisting them.
Q: Bats can really freak people out. What can you tell them to let them know that bats are actually good?
A: Bats are incredibly impactful on the biodiversity of our Illinois ecosystems. Not only do they limit the insect population, but they are also pollinators! Their fur can capture and transfer pollen from plants during their time of flight which helps keep the outdoors green. Not only that, but they are also distributors of seeds, helping different plants spread out across an area to limit the chances that specific type of growth will die out if disease strikes.
Q: What is a bat box and how do you build one?
A: A bat box is typically a slotted wooden box one can hang from a high area to house local bats. These boxes can be found in certain stores, or you can build one at home!
The particular model I built was a “rocket box” bat house, consisting of two inner layers with vent slots on the bottom and room for a pole in the middle in which it is placed on several feet off the ground. (It is more of a bat condominium, if you will.) There are many other types of boxes one can build or buy depending on what you’d prefer specifically, and how many bats you’d like to have around in one spot.
Q: Why did you choose the Rock River Memorial Forest for a bat box location?
A: I had reached out to my local park district and forest preserve who kindly referred me to Better Place Forests, informing me of their mission to assist in the preservation of bat colonies and species as well as forest and wildlife betterment. Encouraged to dedicate my Eagle Project to a true cause, I decided to build and donate five bat houses to support their remarkable efforts.