BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL'S CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
Why is this program needed?
As interest in bats and the popularity of bat houses continue to grow, so have the number of bat house manufacturers. However, many commercially produced bat houses are designed and constructed such that they are unlikely to be used by bats. In general, most are too small to meet the needs of bats, and instructions for proper installation and treatment are often inadequate.
Bat Conservation International and numerous volunteer Research Associates in the North American Bat House Research Project have conducted years of research to determine which criteria are important for successful bat houses. Research has shown that tall and wide designs offer greater temperature diversity, a key factor in attracting bats. Proper crevice widths, roughened interior and landing areas, ventilation slots, and tight, draft-free construction, are also extremely important. Additionally, information must be enclosed about correct placement, sun exposure, and painting, which is just as important as having a good design. BCI is developing a bat house certification program to encourage other bat house manufacturers to design and build high-quality bat houses that are acceptable to bats.
Manufacturers who wish to earn this "Bat Approved" certification must submit a prototype or finished bat house to BCI for evaluation. Bat houses will be reviewed according to the enclosed guidelines, and will be scored on an "approve" or"disapprove" basis. Manufacturers will be provided with a copy of the evaluation and comments. Designs not meeting BCl's approval must be resubmitted, after the appropriate changes have been made in order to gain approval.
The "Bat Approved" certification will be granted for a two-year period, contingent on maintenance of the approved design and quality standards. After two years from date of certification, each model must be reevaluated. Designs not conforming to our guidelines, but which have a proven history of successful use by bats, can be granted "Bat Approved" status based on documented performance. Adequate demonstration of success must be submitted along with the bat house.
BCI has developed an information booklet entitled The Bat House Owner's Manual, which contains detailed instructions for proper placement, painting, mounting, etc. of bat houses. Manufacturers certified in this program can include this booklet with each bat house sold. Booklets are currently provided to manufacturers at a cost of $1.00 per booklet. Alternatively, manufacturers may develop their own information booklets or sheets. This information must be reviewed and approved before certification will be granted. Adequate instructions for proper placement, sun exposure, painting, mounting, etc. must be given. Manufacturers may wish to include their own mounting instructions as well. BCI may also consider offering literature and educational items at discounted prices to include with bat houses sold.
BCl's "Bat Approved" certification will demonstrate to prospective buyers that the manufacturer has designed a bat house that is acceptable to bats. Manufacturers can use the "Bat Approved" logo on bat houses, and in the packaging and advertising (for approved house designs only). Advertising for approved designs must be reviewed by BCI for accurate content. BCI will provide a letter of certification for manufacturers to include with approved models.
This "Bat Approved" program will challenge and encourage manufacturers to design bat friendly, high-quality bat houses. By providing suitable houses which successfully attract bats, manufacturers can further conservation efforts as well as strengthen their sales. As a result, everyone benefits. We believe these endorsements will help increase credibility and sales of bat houses. It is our sincere hope that many manufacturers will benefit from this program, which in turn benefits bats. As other manufacturers become aware of the program, we feel they will be eager to participate as well.
BCI's guidelines for bat house construction
1. Roosting chambers or crevices must be a minimum of 20 inches tall. Minimum overall height of bat houses must be 24 inches.
2. Roost partitions must be carefully spaced 3/4 to 1 inch apart, regardless of the number of chambers present.
3. The overall width of the bat house must be at least 14 inches. Greater widths are preferred. "Rocket" or "post style" houses are an exception, but these must be at least 6 inches wide.
4. Bat houses must possess a suitable landing area. Either a 3 to 6 inch landing area must extend below the entrance (by extending the length of the backboard below the entrance), or partitions may be recessed 3 to 6 inches, such that bats may land on the inside walls of the bottom of the bat house. Rocket or post style houses are an exception, as a rough-cut 4 x 4 post serves as the landing area.
5. All interior surfaces and landing areas must be roughened, scored, or covered with a durable plastic mesh (1/8- or 1/4-inch mesh works best). Metal hardware cloth or aluminum window screen is not acceptable, as it may cause injury to bats. Mesh must be securely stapled such that it does not sag, buckle, or curl. Mesh must not have sharp edges (even plastic mesh may need trimming). Staples must be flush with the roosting surfaces, such that no sharp edges could come into contact with bats. If mesh is not used, surfaces can be roughened or scored with a sharp object at 1/4 inch intervals. Rocket or post style houses are an exception, as a rough-cut 4 x 4 post serves as the roosting surface.
6. Nails, screws, staples, mounting hardware, splinters, or other sharp objects must not protrude into the roosting chambers. Any staples, screws, nails, or mounting hardware used must be an exterior grade, galvanized, or non-corroding.
7. Half-inch wide ventilation slots must be provided and be placed no more than 1/3 (one-third) the distance from the bottom. Front vents must be as long as a house is wide, and side vents (optional) should be approximately 6 inches tall by 1/2 inch wide. Decorative vents may be allowed, provided their size and position are adequate.
8. Any plywood used must be exterior grade. Boards should come from quality stock such as pine or cedar. Pressure-treated wood must not be used, as it contains chemicals which may be harmful to bats.
9. Overall construction must reflect that the bat house is a quality product. Bat houses must be durable and tightly constructed (no unplanned gaps). Caulking or gluing exterior joints (preferably during assembly) is preferred to prevent drafts. If not sealed or painted prior to sale, adequate instructions must be provided for caulking and painting.
10. Advertising and any instructions or literature included with bat houses must meet with our approval (no unsubstantiated or misleading claims will be permitted).
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