Kettering, OH – Protecting threatened and endangered Indiana bats in Ohio weighed heavily on the decision making process for organizers of a Dayton area muscle-powered pathway. Some of the bats which live along the Ohio trail have been the focus of conservation efforts for nearly 50 years.
While bats may conjure up scary images for some, the flying critters play an integral role in insect control. Trees that had to be removed for the construction of the Dayton area pathway were chopped down before the Indiana bats entered into their annual winter hibernation period.
The Ohio muscle-powered path project was awarded a nearly $200,000 federal grant to aid in the bat conservation efforts and tree removal. Ohio officials urged pathway organizers to avoid trees which were possibly home to the bats when designing the project.
The two-city project will run from the Stroop Road-Wilmington Pike area to the University of Dayton. The muscle-powered pathway is expected to open during the early weeks of summer. Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) of wildlife biologist Jennifer Norris had this to say about the role of bats in nature:
"Bats consume their body weight in insects during the summer. We are finding them [Indiana bats] in areas that surprise us more and more."
The ODNR staffer cited a 2011 stud that said a reduction in the insectivores would enhance agricultural pest controls cost by "billions" of dollars. Indiana bats are mouse-eared creatures that are native to North America. The threatened or endangered insectivore is a medium-sized bat that is gray, black, or chestnut in color.
Unlike the common brown bat, the Indiana bat has pink lips and distinguishable "toe-hair" length. The animals typically live in hardwood or hardwood-pine forests. They appear to prefer old-growth forests and farmland. The endangered bats commonly dine on mosquitoes, beetles, midges, and moths.
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