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 SRU Building Bat House on Campus 

 

SPOTLIGHT

Sept. 24, 2003

CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine (724) 738-4854; e-mail: gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu

BAT HOUSE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AT SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY

APPLICATIONS INCLUDE REDUCING RISK OF WEST NILE VIRUS --

           SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University is constructing a bat house on campus for ecological study, environmental stewardship and as an alternative to chemical pest management.

           University professors, administrators and wildlife biologist Cal “Batman” Butchkoski of the Pennsylvania Game Commission gathered this morning to break ground on the 8-by-8-foot structure. Butchkoski designed the bat house and is regarded as one of the nation’s top bat experts.

           Students will have opportunities to study colonization, foraging and flight habits of the nocturnal mammals that eat mosquitoes and other insects. Among the pest control applications, notes project leader Dr. Steven Doherty, may be reducing the risk of West Nile Virus contraction.

               Bats consume thousands of insects nightly and are an ecological alternative to chemical pest management,” says Doherty, assistant professor of parks and recreation/environmental education and chair of the campus Environmental Task Force. “They have prominent roles in ecosystems. Most importantly, a bat house on campus provides numerous educational opportunities for the sciences and other disciplines. This bat house project will be an integral component of campus greening, the development of a campus pedestrian orientation and an enriching aspect to experiential education and the environmental stewardship mission of SRU.”

            Another unique aspect -- one that distinguishes it from other bat condos -- is that SRU is using locally grown, locally milled timber and lumber that is “Smartwood” certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, Doherty says. It will essentially be a “green” building, supporting local industry and sustainable forest management in the region.

           Students will develop habitat suitability maps, informational brochures and conduct workshops to promote the efficacy of bats and communicate ecological awareness to the campus community, Doherty says.

           Other objectives include:

  • Researching the natural history of local bat species.

  • Surveying campus ecosystems and designated habitat study areas.

  • Building an educational component for campus and community interests.

  • Partnering with other area bat projects.

  • Promoting bat conservation as a tool in ecological land-use.

           Bats are not aggressive and pose no danger to students, Doherty says. The project is funded by an SRU student/faculty research grant.

PN, PR, PgN,

 

 

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