HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Harrison County School District is spending $20,000 to kick some unwanted pests out of school. Those pests are actually a bunch of bats that have made themselves quite at home at Harrison Central High School.
WLOX first told you about the problem last Friday. A parent sent WLOX a home video and it created quite a buzz over fears of a bat infestation at the school gym. The video showed three bats swooping down from the ceiling during a school volleyball game last week. (Click here to read the original story.)
District leaders immediately called in the pros. The company "Get Bats Out," based in Colorado, arrived at the school Monday morning. After an inspection, company owner Michael Koski said he found a colony of bats, at least 100 or so, in the back of the gym.
"They're called a Mexican Freetail. They're very small bats and they have a little tail like a mouse. This particular bat actually has a very strong odor to it, kind of a musky, pungent, with a hint of ammonia," said Koski.
"The flashing around the top of all these buildings, there's a nice gap where the bats can land on the bricks and just crawl right in," he explained.
So his crew is installing netting under the flashing to seal most of the gaps.
"We'll mount an excluder, which is basically a one-way door. That'll let the bats go out at night to eat, their normal pattern. When they come back in the morning, they won't be able to get in," said Koski.
Harrison County Superintendent Henry Arledge said bats have been around Harrison Central High School before. He said several years ago, bats were found in two other buildings on campus, and those buildings were sealed. Arledge doesn't know how long the bats have been living in the gym.
In hopes of driving all the bats out of school, Koski's crew is sealing ten other buildings on campus.
"We're kind of in a battle with them. They want to get back in. They'll keep trying. We need to stay here long enough to make sure they can't," said Koski. "They'll crawl around the outside of the buildings looking for a spot we missed. If we did our job correctly, they won't find one. And after a week or so, they should move on and find a new place to live."
Koski said bat urine and droppings can build up over time and pose a potential health hazard.
"Less than one-percent of bats carry rabies, so there's a slight risk there. But we don't want people to overreact and be frightened of the bats. They're very good for the ecology, but it's not good having them live with you or in your school," said Koski.
The contract to control the bat problem at Harrison Central High School covers all eleven buildings over the next three years.