MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The10,000 or so bats which live under the Ina Road bridge over the Santa Cruz River are being displaced by construction, which will take nearly two years to complete
Those bats, which are an important part of the ecosystem, must be moved.
The bridge which now houses the bats will be torn down in November so the scramble is on to find a new home for them.
One issue which must be overcome is the way new bridges are built as opposed to older ones, which are better suited to house the bats.
Older bridges contain stress slats, which are gaps on the underside of the bridge to allow it to give under pressure. For decades, the bats have used those gaps to settle in during the day.
The new bridge will not have those slats or gaps, it will be flat bottomed.
So an alternative must be found.
That's where Janine Spencer-Glasson, a biologist for the town of Marana, comes in.
The RTA has funded the project estimated to be $80,000 but it's an essential part of the environmental requirements imposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA.
They have installed a new bat box under the Cortaro Farms Road bridge, which is located about a mile down river.
It can house several hundred bats but so far, none have moved in.
"They are just really happy in the home they've had for a long time," said Spencer-Glasson. "They see no need to move."
Wildlife officials have sprayed the box with bat scent to try to entice some to move in.
The southern portion of the Ina Road bridge has already been taken down and is being replaced so when the North side is taken down, it's thought the bats will migrate up river.
But there are no guarantees.
Bats serve an important function for farmers because they eat so many insects. One bat can eat up to 2,000 mosquitoes a day.
"So they do a lot of good," Spencer-Glasson said.