Bat num­bers ris­ing

BOXES PRO­VID­ING VI­TAL HOMES

Melville Times - - Street Watch -

BAT num­bers in Bi­bra Lake are on the rise, ac­cord­ing to the man who has taken the lead in cre­at­ing homes for the creatures over the past decade.

East Fre­man­tle res­i­dent Joe Tonga be­gan in­stalling bat boxes through­out lo­cal wet­lands to pro­vide homes for mi­cro­bats un­der threat from en­croach­ing res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments.

More than 50 boxes have been in­stalled and, while he does not have of­fi­cial fig­ures, he says they are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s taken nine or 10 years, but (the bat pop­u­la­tion) is start­ing to grow. It’s a great sign,” he said.

Mr Tonga said his per­sonal ob­ser­va­tion was that more boxes were be­ing pop­u­lated and even shared by mul­ti­ple species, some­thing he said was com­mon. He said mi­cro­bats were “im­por­tant bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol” be­cause they eat up to 1000 mos­qui­toes each night.

The pest tech­ni­cian, who runs pop­u­lar night stalks at the Cock­burn Wet­lands Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, re­cently in­stalled five new boxes.

Bic­ton res­i­dent Harry Han­som (13), a Scotch Col­lege stu­dent, built them as part of a com­mu­nity ser­vice re­quire­ment for school.

“As a kid we went to the Cock­burn Wet­lands Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre,” he said.

“I looked it up on­line and asked Joe what I could do.

“He said mak­ing the bat boxes would be the best way to help out.”

Mr Tonga said Harry’s work was top-notch.

“For a young guy, he threw a lot of pas­sion at the project,” he said.

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