A fungal disease is wiping out millions of bats around the country.
Biologists say white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that mostly affects hibernating bats, has decimated more than 90 percent of the country's bat populations since it was first discovered in 2008.
“Bats play an important role in native ecosystems by pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and eating agricultural pests that destroy crops and harm the economy,” U.S. Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. “Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome is destroying native bat populations at unprecedented rates.”
White-nose has been confirmed in 33 states and in seven Canadian provinces. There is no known cure for the disease.
A quick Google search shows the media is catching on. I've spotted more than 30 articles warning of the disease in the last three weeks alone. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is even offering $100,000 for a winning idea to save the bats.
"We need creative and innovative solutions to combat this deadly disease," says Bernhardt. "I support the white-nose syndrome challenge and encourage the public to submit ideas. Together, we can save our nation’s bats while eradicating one of the most devastating wildlife diseases in North America."
What can woodworkers do?
All species of bats require a safe place to roost. While not as optimal as a warm building or attic, bat houses - small, wooden, roosting shelters - can provide bats with safe roosting spots.
And they're not hard to make. DIY Network recommends using cedar boards, trimming them to size, and attaching them together using a wood joiner and glue. Grooves are required for the inside, as bats need something to latch onto. DIY recommends using palm router with a 1/4” straight bit. Check out their full guide.
This two-chambered western cedar bat house from Whitehorse is selling for $40 on Amazon.
Many bat houses are listed on Amazon - ranging from $20 to $70 in price. Most use cedar, but pine is also seen.
While bat houses won't slow the spread of white-nose, they can at least provide bats with safe roosting shelters. And due to the extreme severity of the disease - and resulting increased media coverage - I expect demand to increase.
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