Their Scouting rank may be named after eagles, but bats are the focus of attention for two local Eagle Scouts who installed bat houses at Kankakee Sands Preserve.
Austin Miles Danielewicz, with Troop 40 in Mokena, installed two bat houses this summer. In 2015, the first bat house was installed by Kenny Parise, with Troop 258 in Joliet. The houses are designed to provide alternative roosting habitat for a colony of big brown bats that lived at the preserve in a barn which was demolished in February 2016.
The District provided the Eagle Scouts with rocket-style bat house plans and the exact locations for the installation, said Juanita Armstrong-Ullberg, the Forest Preserve's natural resource land manager. The Scouts were responsible for getting the funds or donations they needed to build and install the bat houses. The District selected rocket-style bat houses because they have a high success rate for roosting colonies of bats, are aesthetically pleasing and require no maintenance, Armstrong-Ullberg said.
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Parise's bat house was installed using a 20-foot pole and pulleys. Danielewicz used two metal poles and a compression coupling. There were issues with the coupling during installation, but the Scout and his dad came up with a solution.
"This was a great way for the Eagle Scout and his team members to use their intelligence and strategically redesign the plans," Armstrong-Ullberg said.
The houses provide an additional choice of habitats for the bats, she added.
"It will give them a selection of roosting habitats to choose from, so if it gets a bit too hot in one of the bat houses, they can easily move to another bat house, and vice versa if the houses are too cool."
There are no guarantees bats will use the houses, and they may have already found a home in a nearby dying oak tree. But Danielewicz designed removable guano catchers with Plexiglas, so Forest Preserve staff will be able to detect the presence of bats easily, should they choose to move into the bat houses.
"The Forest Preserve's natural resources staff truly enjoyed working with both of these Eagle Scouts," Armstrong-Ullberg said. "They are two great boys who are on their way to becoming amazing, creative men of the future who have the love, guidance and support of their family and friends."
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