Jackson County School Battles Bats - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/18/04

Jackson County School Battles Bats

Mrs. O'Conner's fifth graders are finally back in their classroom. More than a week ago, they had to move to the cafeteria after students discovered a bunch of Brown Bats.

"I was in class and all of a sudden they had people running. I came out, and I was wondering what was going on. When I looked, a bat was flying straight toward my face," Gabrielle Day said.

This is not the first time bats have made a home in the roof at St. Martin Upper Elementary.

"I walked into the office one morning, and they're hanging from the light fixtures. Some of them were actually flying through the office. I got a broom to knock some of them out of the air," Principal Larry Newman said.

"We removed three and released out into a natural habitat area. During the peak period, there may have been dozens up there," Bruno Milanese with Bay Pest Control said.

Milanese believes the winged creatures entered the school through a small crack or hole. Because the bats are protected, the only way to remove them is to chase them out.

"You seal up a number of the holes and only leave a few limited accesses to where they can get out, and then put a material in that would create an odor that's not attractive to the bats," Milanese said.

Besides causing a big stink, the bats also raise a health concern. You see bats can carry rabies and other insects. That's why the school is taking every precaution to make sure students are safe.

"There's not a real danger. There's not an environmental issue. We brought environmental people in to test the air quality and that sort of thing and everything has come back negative," Principal Newman said.

The campus has been declared bat-free, but for how long?

"Because of the lingering odor that they leave and the fact that it's attractive to other bats, it's hard to say that a bat will never come back to a building once it's been there," Milanese said.

No one at the school has reported any health problems because of the bats. Pest control employees will inspect the campus every month to make sure the bats are gone for good.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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