Bat flying in air

Lee Mackenzie and Dianne Odegard – Austin Bat Refuge Intake Room

Austin Bat Refuge works to counter negative myths about bats through rehabilitation and release, education and conflict resolution. Our activities promote understanding and compassion toward bats, and we strive in all we do to protect bats, but to educate the public about avoiding direct contact with bats, for the safety of both. An organization focused on protecting local bats is important to this city. We are often the only alternative to euthanasia of bats found by the public. City of Austin Animal Control officers are required to have all bats found by the public, regardless of human or pet contact, tested for rabies, requiring euthanasia. It is an unfortunate policy and Austin Bat Refuge is Austin’s alternative to bat euthanasia, giving Austin residents the information they need about when and how to safely rescue and contain bats, and providing them an organization that will care for them. We want to increase our physical and operational capacity so that our compassionate alternative for bats found in or near human structures can succeed.

We need additional space to care for the increasing number of bats that arrive on an almost daily basis from locations around our community and beyond. Our intention is to construct a small building or an addition to our current bat care building. This new space will be constructed with materials that are easy to sanitize and will include a small section for the purpose of quarantine for bats suspected of carrying the fungus causing White-nose Syndrome, a terrible disease that has killed millions of bats across the U.S. and Canada, and is passed by contact between bats.

Because of the seed grant, we were able to present several educational programs to under-funded schools. Because we were new to fundraising, your seed grant also gave us the confidence to apply for funding from other sources. We become more visible in the community with every program we give, and with every bat we take in from the public. Our core group of regular volunteers now assist us with fund-raising, website maintenance, social media presence and direct bat care. We have expanded our (often) gratis urban bat services with projects including assisting the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation with a bat exclusion from a 12-foot section of Congress Avenue Bridge, necessitated by construction of a new trail bridge. Our guidance, including lift bucket access to view the work up close, ensured that no bats were harmed in the process.

Having a clean intake room is critical for successful bat care. We intend to meet the challenge, into the future, of rescuing and housing bats that are injured, orphaned or displaced. Improving our infrastructure is vitally important for continuing our mission of compassionate service to the bats and humans of central Texas.

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