Tucson bats moving into condos

March 11, 2013

Tucson bats are finding themselves homeless as their natural habitats like caves and mines are disappearing due to urban development. The bats tried moving into city dwellings, but now even the bats' newfound homes are being threatened. Cronkite News Service reporter Kelsea Wasung tells us the bat caves are being replaced by condos.

bats Bats live under the Ina Road bridge in Tucson (Photo courtesy of Ted Fleming)

It may look like an old bridge, but to others it's home. The Ina Road bridge in Tucson houses thousands of bats. Their living space is crevices under the bridge.

Janine Spencer is the environmental projects coordinator and engineer in Marana. She says while the bridge is perfect for bats, it's not so great for drivers.

"The bridge here has become unstable and they have to close it when it floods sometimes, so they are looking at replacing it,” Spencer said.

That means the three species of bats that live under the bridge year-round or migrate there during the summer to raise their young will have to find somewhere else to roost.

So Spencer, along with Arizona Game and Fish, proposed bat condos. Hanging 14-by-48-inch steel boxes with crevices inside that imitate the ones in the bridges.

bats An example of the bridge crevice where bats roost in the Ina Road bridge in Tucson. (Photo by Cronkite News Service)

"They're insulated and have attics and air vents so the bats can choose where they want to roost, how hot or cool they want it,” Spencer said.

The bat condos won’t go up until 2016, and the estimated cost is $80,000. That will come from the Tucson Regional Transit Association.

 The bridge bats won't be without a place to live. Two condos will go up this year under a bridge a mile away, so Game and Fish can clear out the bats under the Ina bridge before demolition occurs.

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