Kewaunee Co. man has an uncommon love for backyard bats

Tivoli Gough
A bat houses overlookis one of Gary Legois’ ponds.

LUXEMBURG - Gary Legois of Luxemburg is a wildlife and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys his 50 acres of land. He has many hobbies, and especially likes woodworking, fishing, and making maple syrup.

Legoisy expanded his hobby of woodworking to building and selling hundreds of bird houses each year. He enjoys the care and maintenance he does on the bird houses.

“I am retired; best job I ever had,” said Gary.

Legois cherishes the time he spends on his property with friends and family, including his children and grandchildren. He first discovered the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) many years ago, by talking with a friend.

At this time, Legois’ land was rented out and farmed. Although he did not mind renting, he wanted to do more for the land and wildlife on it. He met with the NRCS Luxemburg Service Center and was informed of conservation options for his land that would improve animal habitat and the soil.

Joe Johnson, NRCS Kewaunee and Door County District Conservationist, has known Legois since 2005 when he first installed a shallow wildlife scrape on Legois' property through the Conservation Reserve Program. Since then, NRCS has continued to work with Legois on several projects, including bat houses.

"I enjoy meeting with Gary and appreciate his passion for his property and the wildlife he works hard to provide habitat for,” Johnson said. "Efforts like this, made by local staff and conscious land owners, contribute to NRCS program success."

Program Successes

NRCS is making a difference in helping landowners, like Legois, through the Upland Wildlife Habitat Bat House Program. Legois built wildlife habit and cares for bats he removed from roosts above doorways at Luxemburg area schools. Teachers and students were afraid to utilize doors due to the presence of bats.

Legois would graciously relocate these bats to his back yard. With the support of the wildlife structure practice, Legois created a sanctuary that is a great home for bats. In the last two years, he has installed four hand-built bat houses.

He also has multiple shallow water ponds, wooded areas, and some open fields that are common ground for bat foraging habitat

Bats play a vital role in controlling populations of night-flying insects, including mosquitoes, beetles and moths. Bats do consume other food sources, such as fruit, pollen, or nectar from plants and flowers.

Due to high metabolic demands, a nursing female bat can potentially consume more than her body weight in a single night. Even a single, small brown bat can consume about 600 mosquito-sized insects in one hour.

Tall, narrow boxes provide protection for bats on Gary Legois' farm.

Legois notices the amazing work done by bats on his property, stating that he does not have many mosquitoes. “I will do anything that comes along that deals with helping wildlife,” he said.

The ongoing decline of bat species is contributed to loss of roosting habitat, including development, deforestation, and the removal of live trees and hedgerows from agricultural fields and other rural landscapes, as well as white nose fungus. Thankfully, there are people, like Legois, that make a
difference for bats and other wildlife.

This story is part of the NRCS Successes in the Field series where farmers and landowners partner with NRCS to receive technical and financial assistance in putting conservation to work on their farm.