- Anyone who frequents the Pennsylvania State Game Lands may have noticed repaired black boxes perched high above the ground.
For Caleb Burns, an Eagle Scout candidate, this is all part of a project to help make the environment better for these often misunderstood denizens of the night.
When choosing an Eagle Scout project, Burns was mindful to pick something that held an interest for him and would benefit the surrounding area.
"I got the idea for the bat boxes after helping a friend with the [PA] Game Commission fixing a shooting a range," he explained.
Once he established a relationship with the commission, the project for constructing these bat penthouses was in motion.
"When I started talking to the Game Commission, I mentioned possibly doing something with bat boxes."
Bat boxes are structures that provide a safe home for a colony of these furry creatures.
According to the game commission, bat boxes provide a safe shelter and a place for the mammals to raise their young.
These structures weigh 70 pounds each and are mounted on a pole 12 feet above ground to help deter predators.
Each box has dimensions of approximately three-by-two feet.
Burns said inside the box are "little slats for them to hang on to."
The outside of the boxes are painted a dark color to allow sunlight to be absorbed and heat up the inside of the box.
Besides being a largely outdoor project, Burns was drawn to help the bats because of their positive impact on the environment.
"Bats eat a lot of bugs and can help in the restriction of some blood- borne illnesses," he said.
Bats can consume "600 bugs per hour." There are more than 1,300 different species of bats that perform duties ranging from pest control to pollination.
"They are a really cool animal," he added. "They are the only mammal that can truly fly."
Dovetailing with the bat box project is an upcoming seminar that Burns hopes will set the record straight about these animals.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about bats," he said. "A lot of people fear bats and they shouldn't."
The seminar is slated for Friday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Mount Library, located on Main Street in Pleasant Mount.
The topics in the seminar include how bats benefit organic gardening and what residents can do to help foster a healthy bat population.
Bob Muller from the Wayne County Conservation District will present with Burns on the topic.