Gregg County com'bat'ing problem - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Gregg County com'bat'ing problem

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The flutter of little wings and even some furry visitors dropping into offices was enough to convince Gregg County Courthouse officials they had a bat problem.

"What you find when you're a county judge is that every day's a new day, and certainly it was a new day when we discovered the issue we're dealing with now," said Bill Stoudt.

The bats are getting in through a small crack at the top of the building, and workers are, understandably, creeped out. Identified as Mexican Free-tailed Bats, biologists say they can roost by the thousands, or even millions.

"Generally, they do leave their colony sites and go south and set up a southern region where it's warmer, and I was really surprised that these bats did not do that," said Charlie Muller, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

And, it's known to be a rabies carrier.

"They're setting up a colony there that they come back to," said Muller. "They can become smelly."

"This is a public building and the last thing that we want is for the public to be frightened by any animals that aren't supposed to be hanging out at the courthouse," said Stoudt.

It's only a tiny crack in the southwest corner of the courthouse roof, but bats can actually flatten themselves out, a lot like ice, to get through very small spaces. Just the thought of bats had some un-nerved.

"Well, it's kind of like thinking about being around rats or mice - kind of dirty," said Linda Stephenson.

The county has hired a San Antonio pest control specialist to encourage the bats to relocate. The bats pictured in this story are not the ones at the courthouse. So far they have kept a low profile. It will cost the county about $9,000 to get rid of them.

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