The bat man

First Posted: 10/22/2014

The winged creatures of the night, bats are not exactly at the top of the list of everyone’s favorite animals, but play a very pivotal role in the course of nature.

With the species currently endangered, 17-year-old Jared Casaldi decided to take action to help preserve it.

Jared is a member of Boy Scout Troop 281 of Dallas and he recently donated 14 colony bat houses to the Northeastern Pennsylvania Game Commission as part of a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge.

The houses, Jared said, are about 3 feet by 2 feet.

The Lake-Lehman High School senior heard of the bats becoming endangered through research to a disease called “white noise syndrome.”

White-noise syndrome, or WNS, is an emerging disease associated with the deaths North American bats. The condition, named for a distinctive fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of hibernating bats, was first identified in 2006.

As of September of this year, the fungus has been found in caves and mines throughout the Northeastern United States and as far south as Mississippi and west to Missouri and into five Canadian provinces.

“I did some research and I heard about it a few years ago,” said Jared. “What happened was, I used to have bats in my backyard a lot and now there are none. I did research, found out about it and thought it would be a cool idea to make the bat houses, and so did the game commission.”

Jared said his entire project from start to finish, took up to about a year to complete with six months being used to construct the bat houses. He said he had plenty of help from his family and friends, using the Lake-Lehman High School wood shop after school hours and on weekends to cut the wood and his garage to construct the houses.

Marcus Casaldi, Jared’s father, said he enjoyed helping his son while at the same time seeing him mature before his very eyes.

“It was very interesting,” said Marcus. “I was extremely proud to see when we were over at the school, cutting the wood and assembling it, it was great to see how mature your kids are. Jared took a leadership role, the kids got a system down and they really worked together.”

Helping Jared not only helped Marcus learn more about his son and his leadership skills, but he also learned more about bats and why they are needed.

“I didn’t realize how dire it is that bats are disappearing,” said Marcus. “That, and the importance of bats being around. When you start slapping yourself in the summer with mosquitoes and gnats, you definitely want them to be around.”

With the houses completed and now donated, Jared said the NEPA Game Commission is going to give the houses to land owners with decent sized bat populations, in hopes that the houses will preserve those populations and be a small step in the preserving of bats all together.

A scout since he was in fifth grade, Jared has never looked back on the day he decided to join as he has always enjoyed being active with the friends he has made over the years.

“I had a few friends in scouts and they did a lot of cool activities, so I joined,” said Jared. “When I was younger, I switched over to Cub Scouts 281 because they were more active and I made new friends and stuck with it. Today, I’m working on my Eagle Scout badge.”

With the completion of his bat houses as his Eagle Scout project, Jared’s next task towards his badge will be a meeting with the NEPA Boy Scout Council, where he will be asked questions about his project and his use of scouting.

Jared said he does not know when the meeting will happen.

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