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Engineers at UVA finding, tracking bats under bridges

Picture of a bat under a bridge.
Picture of a bat under a bridge.(Devin Harris)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group of engineers at the University of Virginia are helping the Virginia Department of Transportation find bats under bridges across the commonwealth.

Highway construction displaces bats, causing them to relocate under bridges and overpasses. When bats are found during bridge inspections, engineers have to stop the inspection, report the sighting, and then determine next steps.

Research helps spot the bats using computer imaging to help spot them, without harming them.

“We have to be cognizant of the impacts of our built environment, which is again, very far reaching,” Devin Harris, director of UVA’s Center for Transportation Studies, said. “Just in Virginia alone, 20-some-odd-thousand bridges. Across the country 600,000 plus, that’s a lot of structure. That’s a lot of impact on the environment and the ecological system that we have to pay attention to.”

The research team at UVA says its working on improving its imaging system to find these critters faster.

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