Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla has long advocated for the protection of bats due to environmental dangers the species faces from deforestation and overdevelopment. To salvage the bat population, Commissioner Bonilla is partnering with President of the Florida Bat Conservancy Shari Blissett-Clark to educate, build, and install bat houses as an alternative form of housing for the critters.
“I look forward to installing these bat houses in Orange County Parks. I hope to extend this pilot project throughout the County. Bats provide many benefits for managing the mosquito population and also serve as pollinators for the agriculturists in my district,” said Commissioner Bonilla.
Last year, the office of District 5 secured a community conservation grant from Brevard Zoo, winning the Florida Bat Conservancy funds to construct 30 bat houses throughout East Orange County.
In an endeavor to teach the public about the benefits of bats in the community, Commissioner Bonilla, her staff, and Bat Expert Blissett-Clark spent all weekend educating the public on the importance of bats.
The three public events called Bat Chats occurred on January 11th and 12th, at East Orange District Park, Winter Park, and the YMCA in Union Park. The East Orange location had a total of 16 attendees, and the Winter Park and Union Park locations each had a total of 40 attendees.
"I'm happy we had a great turn out for our first phase, and I can't wait to see the community participate in the second phase where they will get to build the bat houses," said Commissioner Bonilla.
The Bat Chats held this weekend educated the public on the importance of Bats. Thanks to research with bats, the medical industry has developed over 80 types of modern medications to treat cardiac and other medical conditions. Eliquis and Xarelto are two common blood thinners derived from the enzyme found in bat saliva.
If someone missed the Bat Chats, they could check out Commissioner Bonilla's Facebook page at @CommEmilyBonilla to find the informative talk on bats as a Facebook live post.
“My primary concern is always for the safety of my bats, and this often means managing the myths and misconceptions that have surrounded bats for centuries, including the grossly overstated fear of diseases and aggression. We have over 450 different types of food and fiber crops each of us use every day that are brought to us only because there are bats on this planet,” says Shari Blissett-Clark. Bats play a significant role in society and the environment.
District 5 will start the second phase of this three-phase conservancy project in February to help build the houses that will protect the bats from their biggest endangerment -- habitat loss. Pre-registration is required as spaces are limited. Registration will soon be available on our Facebook page and website at EmilyBonilla.com.