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14A » SUN SENTINEL » SUNSENTINEL.COM » SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2010 » SB

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» BATS PAGE 1

Fear of rabies steering some from the idea place before the South Florida Water Management District will issue water-use permits. Many localities are using as a template the Florida Friendly Landscaping Program, prepared by the University of Florida in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Protection. Broward County, however, already had initiatives in place with its NatureScape program, launched in 2003. All the guidelines encourage residents to erect nesting boxes for owls, woodpeckers, spiders and bats. “Your bat house should be tall, shallow and hung at least 12 to 15 feet above the ground,” the Florida Friendly handbook advises. It points out bats have voracious appetites (they can devour 1,000 mosquitoes an hour), reducing the need for harmful pesticides. Broward’s website includes videos on how bat boxes work. Some residents are already embracing bat houses. Inspired by his daughter’s success, Jack Hanna, a retired car parts salesman, built his own last year. Perched atop a 10-foot pole, the bat house sits next to an olive tree in the front yard of his Fort Lauderdale home. Other houses for woodpeckers, owls and blue birds dot his garden. “I wanted to do something to get rid of the pests and mosquitoes,” Hanna said. “I don’t use pesticides to begin with. In a city like this, where everyone uses pesticides and fertilizers, it contaminates the water supply. This is a way to be friendly to the Earth.” Still, the idea of luring bats to densely populated neighborhoods is not exactly taking full flight. “There’s enough wildlife in Florida, like rats, squirrels and iguanas, without setting up a bat house,” said Pembroke Pines resident Phil McConaghey. “For one thing, bats spread rabies. I don’t think we should be attracting bats.” Officials in Pembroke Pines, Hollywood and Coconut Creek seem to agree. Pembroke Pines staff will recommend that commissioners approve a landscape plan that omits any mention of bat houses. Coconut Creek may follow suit in the coming months, followed by Hollywood in the next two years. “I don’t think we’ll be looking at how to get bobcats or bats to your backyard,” said Raelin Storey, a Hollywood spokeswoman. “Obviously there could be a danger to getting certain wildlife in neighborhoods. It wouldn’t be good for the wildlife or the human population, either.” Michael Bailey, who oversees Cooper City’s utilities department, said, “My goal is to encourage water conservation. I don’t know that I need to include a bat house to achieve that.” Still, efforts to attract bats in cities like Deltona, near Orlando, and Temple Terrace, near Tampa, have met with success. Deltona installed a small cedar bat house behind City Hall atop a 30-foot pole last year. Temple Terrace has had six bat houses dotting local parks for

Chelsea Matiash, Sun Sentinel photos

Fort Lauderdale resident Jack Hanna has a bat house on a 10-foot pole in his yard. “I wanted to do something to get rid of the pests and mosquitoes,” Hanna said. “I don’t use pesticides to begin with. … This is a way to be friendly to the Earth.”

several years. Conservationists say bat boxes, used in Florida since at least the 1920s, are seeing a resurgence in condominiums and parks across the state. One of the longest-standing bat houses in Florida sits at the end of a cul-de-sac on Sugar Loaf Key. The circa-1920s bat box was installed by a developer who hoped to wipe out mosquitoes and attract new residents to the area. At dusk some evenings, crowds flock to see bats fill the sky around the University of Florida’s bat house, which with more than 100,000 bats is said to be the world’s largest. The 20-foot-high bat house — with 180 highly coveted dark crevices — went up in 1991 to keep bats away from its stadium. The university installed a second “bat barn” in the same field earlier this year to attract more bats. “Bats are a vital part of our ecology,” said Cyndi Marks, executive director of the Florida Bat Conservancy, based in St. Petersburg. “A lot of people think of them as rats, but they’re not. You will only have as many bats as you have insects — it’s the only thing they eat in Florida.” Florida has more than a dozen species of bats, most of which are Brazilian free-tailed

» HEAT PAGE 1

Bat houses, like bird houses, are simple wooden structures hung in trees to house bats.

bats and evening bats, which favor bat houses for their tight, dark crevices. They typically frequent the bat houses during the day, when they slip into a dormant, inactive state by lowering their body temperature and heart rate. Bats once flocked to Florida’s palm trees to nest, but increasingly they are being relegated to the Everglades, thanks to rapid development and

widespread use of pesticides. “We are trying to attract species that are of benefit to us. We aren’t trying to attract Florida panthers,” said Doug Young, president of the South Florida Audubon Society. Jennifer Gollan can be reached at jgollan@ SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4451.

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Heat fans cheer as Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James are introduced during a welcome party at AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday

It’s a show, a zoo, a circus for Heat fans taled more than many Heat games the last few seasons. Wade began dancing. James joined him. And they all were laughing, going down a runway, low-fiving fans. You’ve never seen any entrance like this in the sober, often somber, don’t-make-a-spectacle-of-yourself world of sports. It was fun and loud and brash and arrogant and dramatic and, my god, was a statement for what kind of a show has dropped into South Florida. And it never stopped, not for a moment, like when LeBron was asked about winning a title and he said, “Not one.” People cheered. “Not two … Louder cheers. “Not three, four, not five, not six, not seven …” By now, the crowd had gone from cheering to laughing to not quite knowing how to react to the party-line absurdity of the idea. Seven? Because that is absurd, isn’t it? Well? Ladies and gentlemen, kiss your days of a basketball game being just a basketball game goodbye. This will be a show. A zoo. A circus. In the best of every way possible if you’re a Heat fan. “Every place is going to sell out when we come to town,’’ Wade said. “They can thank us now.” Brash? Yep. True? That, too. Already, the Heat sold out of season tickets. The announcement by Wade and Bosh to join the Heat carried a day of national stories. LeBron’s announcement on ESPN drew higher TV ratings than Game 7 of last month’s NBA Finals. “The Partnership,’’ LeBron called their union Friday in a news conference after the

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