The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 17, 2013

Condo open and ready to house 10,000 bats

By Carra Higgins
Register-Herald Reporter

— Among the newest Eagle Scouts from southern West Virginia is Aiden Lintala, who recently achieved the ranking with a project that will make a difference for creatures that are losing their habitats and are usually unwanted at human homes and businesses.

Lintala, and other Scouts and adult leaders from Troop 3 in Beckley, spent several days last fall and early this winter constructing a bat condominium to provide the nocturnal creatures with their own winter hibernation home — at Little Beaver State Park.

Inspiration for the condo came in early June when Lintala and fellow members of Troop 3 were conducting a Court of Honor ceremony at Grandview Park, where a bat condo already stands.

“That night I saw hundreds of them flying in and out (of the condo),” Lintala said. “I thought, ‘That’s very, very cool.’”

Lintala explained that development and the clearing of forested areas throughout southern West Virginia have taken away some of the natural bat habitats, and he felt an “obligation” to provide the winged mammals a home in which to hibernate. The bat condominium, he said, will help keep bats out of the rafters of human homes and other structures when they have nowhere else to make their own home.

Although bats can scare some people, and aren’t typically welcome, they do play an important role in the ecosystem.

Lintala explained that bats eat mosquitos and other insects that can destroy crops, and ensuring their future existence is important. By providing them with this shelter, southern West Virginia’s bat population can remain.

The bat condo is 8 feet off the ground with 8 by 8 by 8 dimensions. But it’s not just a hollow shell. It’s filled with 86 sheets of plywood that become the winter home to approximately 10,000 hibernating bats. Lintala said since the work was completed late in the season for his bat condominium to provide winter shelter, by spring, the bats will begin to utilize their new set-up.

The first weekend of work was in early November, and there were approximately 80 Cub Scouts in the park who lent a hand for the most labor-intensive part of the condo. Lintala explained that the sheets of plywood were far too smooth and had to be made rough so the bats could easily cling to the surface during hibernation.

The other Scouts helped create bat-friendly walls by making the plywood surface more coarse.

Lintala says many people helped bring his project to fruition, especially his parents, Alan and Janet Lintala. His uncle, Eric Lintala, even drove nine hours from New York to lend a hand.

The bat condo will be maintained by Little Beaver State Park and is expected to be in place for at least 60 years.   

Although thousands of bats around Little Beaver State Park got a new hibernation home, Lintala himself also gained from the experience. He said he had never supervised a project on this scale, which gave him a better understanding of how to be a leader and interact well with others.

“I’m proud to have achieved it,” Lintala said. “It’s been a long, hard road.”

Lintala is a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School and after achieving Eagle Scout status he has become an adult leader with Troop 3 that meets at and is sponsored by St. Mary’s United Methodist Church on South Kanawha Street.