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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tech World

MnDOT researches technology that combines bridge repairs with protecting the state’s bat population

If they’re not in your attic, they may be hanging under one of the 21,000 bridges.

“Bats love bridges at the same time of year that we want to do our construction activities,” said Christopher Smith, a wildlife ecologist at MnDOT.

That’s why Smith recently played a major role in a research project.

“We need to find ways to deter or discourage bats from the bridge or overpasses when we need to do our projects, and after the whole project is done we’d welcome back,” Smith said.

MnDOT said that placing acoustic deterrents near bridges in need of repairs deterred bats due to the sound.

“When we display that sound and create this noise on their signals, then they are looking for other places to go,” Smith said.

Once the construction crews have finished their work on the bridge, they will remove the technology completely in the hope that the bats will return to the bridges.

“They came back pretty quickly, anywhere from the next day to a few days after that,” Smith said.

MnDOT investigates technology that combines bridge repair with state bat protection | Christopher Smith via KSTP

“I think it’s cool,” Neumann said.

With the research being successful, Neumann knows how important this work is.

“Its population has been declining over the past few years,” he said.

Numan also said that bats are essential to the ecosystem.

“They eat thousands and thousands of mosquitoes in one night, so they are excellent at being around,” Naumann said.

Without this technology, MnDOT believes the bat population would suffer.

“If the work starts when the bats are on the bridge and they have all of their children, those kids are often left behind, those kids probably won’t survive,” Smith said.

What began as research on two bridges will be used in select projects across the state in the near future. MnDOT and DNR both agree it’s a win.

“They will make every effort to save our species in Minnesota,” Neumann said.

“We care a lot about bats and want to do our part to protect them,” Smith said.

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