• Department

Ikes in Action: Building a More Natural Roosting Spot for Endangered Bats

Outdoor America 2019 Issue 2
People installing roosting structures for bats

Indiana >> The Porter County Chapter installed specially designed roosting structures on one of their conservation properties to help several species of endangered bats.

Most bat boxes are literally boxes constructed from wood. Don Frame, who supervised the Porter County Chapter project and helped build the structures, used an artificial material called BrandenBark.

Developed by Copperhead Environmental Consulting in Kentucky, BrandenBark is a polyurethane plastic molded to imitate the bark of trees. It is typically mounted on utility poles or standing dead trees in areas where bats are found, usually by streams or wetlands.

“BrandenBark was developed specifically by biologists to imitate defoliating bark on dead trees that some species of bats like to hide under for roosting or for raising their young,” says Frame. Bats that have been known to use roosts constructed of BrandenBark include the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat, and the little brown bat – all of which are found around the Porter County Chapter’s conservation area.

Frame contacted Amanda Steeb at the Kankakee Valley Rural Electric Membership Cooperative, a local electric utility cooperative, to ask for help with the project. “Our cooperative is committed to helping the community and the environment,” Steeb says. “With our access to poles and equipment, it was a great way for us to contribute to this project.”

Many populations of bats have been severely impacted by “white nose syndrome,” a fungal disease that affects hibernating bats. It has killed millions of bats across North America, and the chapter hopes to help these species rebound in northwest Indiana.

The project was funded by the Porter County Chapter, the Kankakee Valley Rural Electric Membership Cooperative, and a grant from the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League. The U.S. Geological Survey and Purdue University Northwest were part of the project research and design.

“We are really excited about this project,” says Porter County Chapter president Gary Brown. “If it works here, we hope to put more of the same structures up all over northwest Indiana. Bats serve an important ecological role and they need our help.”