By Mariah McCooey–The bats in the Old Massett community hall are “becoming an issue,” according to band administrator Victor Robinson. He’s not sure how long they have been hanging out in the rafters of the community hall, but their plentiful droppings are becoming a health risk. Apparently, the bats are a protected species. That means removing them will be far more difficult than simply placing “bat bait” in strategic locations.
“We’re monitoring it,” said Mr. Robinson, “we’ve been in touch with an environmental health officer, but haven’t heard anything back yet.” Meanwhile, the hall is closed during the nighttime, while the bats are active (and pooping). During the day, they are asleep, so it’s not so much of a problem. Bats are nocturnal, so they are out and about at night, Mr. Robinson said.
So far, nobody has been able to identify the particular species of bat. They are very small – “only a couple of inches,” he said, and after doing some research on the internet, he thinks it might be a Keen’s bat, which turns out to be an endangered species.
So why the community hall? These bats are losing important habitat as more and more of their forest homes get clearcutted. “Unfortunately, they picked our hall instead,” he said.
Nothing can be done about the infestation until after the babies are fully grown and flying on their own, he said. According to his research, the bats have their babies in June or July, and won’t be independent for several more weeks. Meanwhile, they have to wear masks into the hall to avoid the dust from their droppings, and continually wipe down the soiled bleachers.
Once the babies are full grown, the bat colony will have to be scooped up while they’re sleeping and put back outside, where they belong. Then Old Massett will have to get to work, patching the holes they sneaked through to begin with.
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