Created as a possible solution to the epidemic of white-nose syndrome:
...the conservation group, working with the state wildlife agency, decided to build a bat hibernaculum that could be scrubbed out with ammonia each autumn and spring, keeping the cave clean of the deadly fungus...Kudos to the people who took the initiative to do this.
Made out of pre-cast concrete modules, the cave is about 24 metres long. That size space could easily accommodate 200,000 bats. "But I'd be happy with 10,000 to 15,000," Holliday said.
The cave was engineered to draw a continual supply of winter air from a concrete shaft to provide the chilly temperatures favoured by hibernating bats. Stale air is released through a chimney. The shaft also serves as the entrance for the bats.
The ceiling is scored with ridges and rough edges, the better to give bat claws a tight grip. Walls are lined with sheets of open mesh and fine screens – even a slab of board, with a gap for crevice-loving bats to roost in...
But there are no guarantees the bats will even deign to use the artificial space. "It's a neat idea for sure but the trick will be seeing whether bats will use it first of all. The second thing will be seeing how they regulate the micro-climate inside, which is super-important for bat hibernation," said Craig Willis, a bat expert at the University of Winnipeg.
Photo credit: Ed Rode/Polaris.
(For background reading, see White-nose syndrome in bats)