Goin' Batty II LbNA # 19711
|Owner||Kristal & Ron|
|Placed Date||Dec 20 2005|
DISTANCE: 5 minutes, 100 yards
TERRAIN: 10 ft elevation gain over very un-even ground
TO THE BOX:
Park at the Home Depot at 7677 E. Broadway (just west of Pantano). From the SW corner of the building, go down the stairs between the picnic tables and the bike lockers to enter the Pantano River Park. Take the gravel path left until it meets up with a paved path. Turn left and take the right fork of the paved path. Continue walking with the brown pipe fence on your right until it becomes a chain link fence. At this point, cross through the fence into the riverbed. Continue south with the fence on your left now, up the cement slant and all the way to the trees in the corner. Go between the trees and out onto a ledge. The "Goin' Batty II" letterbox is nestled at the base of the smaller tree, in its own little cave, right where the ledge meets the land. It’s covered with rocks, bark, and sticks – hopefully appearing like a rubble pile so as not to attract attention.
What you probably smell, and may hear, is the largest bat colony in Tucson. Biologists estimate between 11,000 and 20,000 Mexican free-tailed bats live under this bridge year-round. They are vital to the Sonoran Desert eco-system because they consume large amounts of insects and nectar and they assist in pollination of many plant species. There are at least 35 smaller colonies like this in Tucson and the city transportation department is retro-fitting more bridges to accommodate them.
Representatives from the Arizona Game and Fish Department offer the following guidelines for bat-watchers:
- Arrive at a bridge site at about sunset. Bats will usually depart their roosts 15-30 minutes after sunset, depending on cloud-cover. (From mid-November to mid-March they seem to sleep in, coming out MUCH later than dusk. Who knew bats get lazy?!? - K)
- Watch from the walkways or trails on the banks of the river rather than going under a bridge.
- Don't use artificial lights - such as flash cameras or bright flashlights - near a roost.
- Keep noise to a minimum. Urban bats are accustomed to the sound of vehicles, but loud voices can startle them.
- Never touch or pick up a bat found lying on the ground. The animal might have been afflicted with rabies or another disease.
- Comply with state laws prohibiting the capture or killing of bats.