MICROBATS IN THE YOUNG SHIRE
Young District Landcare’s Microbats in the Young Shire project is going from strength to strength, with a third year of funding from Riverina Local Land Services (LLS) recently announced. The funding has been made available through the LLS’s Community Partnerships program for 2016 -2017 and will build on the achievements of the last two years.
The project was initiated in 2014 to protect and improve microbat habitat in the Young Shire and to provide community awareness of local microbat species and the important ecological role they play.
Microbats, sometimes referred to as insectivorous bats, are small, nocturnal, flying mammals which use sonar to locate and catch their food. By consuming large quantities of insects such as mosquitoes, beetles and moths, they play a vital role in the health of our ecosystems and farming systems.
This Inland Broad-nosed Bat is consuming a mealworm.
Project activities so far have included an information Bat Night, installation of sixty bat roosting boxes with accompanying information signs throughout the Young Shire, talks to school children, plantings and a plant giveaway, articles in the local newspaper, radio interviews and production of a microbat fact sheet.
Another eighty bat boxes have recently been made by Young Men’s Shed and will be installed in large trees throughout the town along Burrandong Creek. A number of boxes will also be offered to the public for installation in back yards. Volunteers trained in the use of ultrasonic bat detectors will monitor the boxes to see which species have taken up residence.
Microbat roosting boxes installed at Young Golf Club
More plantings, workshops, community and school presentations and educational publications are also planned.
The project is providing an opportunity for collaboration between Young District Landcare and a number of local organisations including Young Shire Council, WIRES Weddin-Lachlan Branch, Australasian Bat Society and Riverina Regional Landcare Facilitator Program.
As well as providing the funds, Riverina LLS staff are playing an active role in supporting the project. Kylie Murray, Land Services Officer (Community Grants) based in Cootamundra, recently visited the Young District Landcare office to meet some of the key players in the project, including three tiny Inland Broad-nosed Bats (Scotorepens balstoni) in the care of Young WIRES member Leah. The tiny bats, weighing between ten and fourteen grams, with a head and body length of 5 to 7 cm, came into care after being discovered in a wardrobe. Once the juveniles are old enough to fend for themselves they will all be returned to the area in which they were found.
Kylie was amazed at how tiny the microbats were and commented, “The project has a lot of potential and could be applied across rural and urban areas throughout the wider catchment.”
Also present to meet the microbats was Young Landcare member Anne Lemon, who has been busy researching microbats for the project, and Young Landcare Coordinator Mikla Lewis.
Leah (WIRES carer) holding a juvenile Inland Broad-nosed Bat, Kylie Murray (Riverina LLS), Anne Lemon (Young District Landcare member) and Mikla Lewis (Young District Landcare Coordinator)
If you find a displaced or distressed microbat, do not disturb or handle it but please ring WIRES on 1300 094 737.