CDOT gives local bats a warm holiday gift this season

December 22, 2015 - Northeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 4 - Local mosquitoes won’t be so pleased with boxes built under new bridge on US 34.

GREELEY/KERSEY – As the project to permanently repair US 34 east of Greeley finishes up, the Colorado Department of Transportation installed a special gift under the bridge for area bats!

Four large bat box houses were installed under the new bridge on US 34, each one capable of housing hundreds of bats. The installation is not a requirement, but it is something CDOT tries to do when possible in areas that are suitable for bat populations.

The boxes were built using scrap material, but it’s the thought that counts. And according to Larry Rogstad, Colorado Parks and Wildlife manager, this is a gift that will keep on giving.

“A single brown bat can eat over 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour. Just think what a colony of 100 bats could do in a night,” he said. “This is typical of CDOT, an agency that is always mindful of good stewardship in natural resources, including wildlife. CPW is proud of the relationship we have with CDOT on many habitat protection projects along our public highways.”

Frequently when CDOT replaces older wood bridges, bat boxes are installed to provide new homes for the local bats. The US 34 project, east of Greeley, is a particularly good one for the bat boxes. First, there was no bridge in the area previously. This section of road was wiped out during the flood of 2013 and the bridge was put in place to ensure that doesn’t happen in future high-water events.

Just like with humans, bat “real estate” is all about location. And bats love to have a safe, dry area near readily available water supplies where their main food (those annoying mosquitoes and biting gnats) hang out.

Ryan Idler, the CDOT project engineer on US 34 east, said, “If you have ever been out in this area in the spring or summer, you know there are a lot of bugs out here and that made me think about the bats. I mentioned it to our contractor (Flatirons Constructors) and they found the time to build and install the houses.”

Crews working on the US34 project installed the boxes and even added a little Batman decoration to help the new occupants feel more at home. Previous bat box installations are visited to see if there is any evidence that anyone has moved in and the results have been so successful that future installations will be planned as well.