Yvaine Stelmack, 18, gives a presentation about bats and bat conservation at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library on Wednesday. After the presentation attendees helped to build bat boxes that will be put up in golf courses around town as habitat. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Interest in bats takes flight

A bat box build and info session was held Aug. 7 raised awareness to bat conservation and importance

Sylvan Lake residents learned about bats this week and constructed special boxes to house the winged creatures.

The information session at the town’s library shared the basics of what a bat is, and emphasized the importance of the animals and protecting the population.

“It’s important to teach people that because we are very much connected to bats,” said Yvaine Stelmack, who led Wednesday’s session, adding bats help the agriculture and forestry industries by removing pests.

“Some farmers who actually put up bat boxes in their property have reduced the amount of pesticides they need to get, so there’s less chemicals on our food,” Stelmack said.

Her session also focused on what bats are, which species are native to Alberta and why people shouldn’t be afraid of them.

“There’s really nothing to be scared of,” said Stelmack. “They’re tiny little creatures which are very beneficial to us, so just kind of spreading education in that way is really important.”

A worrisome fungus called white-nose syndrome was also discussed during the presentation.

It was introduced to North America in 2006 and causes a build up on the bat’s nose and wings. Once a bat catches the affliction, it will die within the next two years.

So far, there has been no cases in Alberta, but with no cure, white-nose syndrome continues to spread.

After the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to build bat houses and do bat-themed crafts.

The six bat houses that were made will be installed in golf courses around town to create habitat.

There were three sizes of bat house made Wednesday, with the largest able to hold up to 300 bats.

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Lennix Carriss, 6, colours a photo of a bat Wednesday. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Joey Llewellyn, 9, drills screws into the bat box he was building Wednesday. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

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