Bridge Bats to Get Temporary Housing

FORT MYERS, Fla., July 17 (UPI) — A Florida county plans to build two bat houses to provide shelter for Brazilian free-tailed bats now living under a bridge slated to be torn down.

The bats’ temporary home will overlook their old one with a view of Matlacha Pass and the Matlacha Bridge, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. The cost of the two bat houses, which between them can hold 4,000 of the tiny bats, is $26,500.

Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann told the newspaper he plans to see if there is cheaper housing available.

“I’m shocked it would cost that much to find temporary housing for a bat,”he said.

Cyndi Marks, head of the Florida Bat Conservancy, said Lee County appears to be the first agency in the state to receive a bat housing permit.

“If we lose a colony of bats, it makes a big impact on the population,” she said.

The Matlacha Bridge, a two-lane draw bridge built in 1927, connects Pine Island with Coral Gables. Construction on the new bridge is to begin in September and demolition on the old one to start 18 months later.

Before the demolition, workers will seal the nooks and crannies that now house bats with foam.

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