Historic homes plagued by bats - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Historic homes plagued by bats

October 18, 2006

Americus -- They go bump in the night, and they may send a chill down your spine.

Bats' scary reputation may not be deserved, but bats are causing problems in an historic neighborhood near downtown Americus. The infestation prompted a recent meeting between neighbors and bat experts.

When Wes Skipper comes home from work for a peaceful night's rest, sometimes he's greeted by more than just his family members.

"You know that creepy feeling you get somebody might be watching you, flying around? That's what you'll feel like, and you'll just wake up and you might hear something hit the ceiling fan," said Wes Skipper.

They come out from little crevices of old homes around dusk, by the dozens, even hundreds some nights.

Skipper says the bats are a problem he and his family learned to deal with growing up in this historic Americus home.

The Skipper's have tried wire screens, moth balls, and patchwork to get rid of the nighttime fliers. Now they use their own method of dealing.

A safe and easy way the Skippers have found to catch bats is using the towel method. They catch the bat in the towel, which allows them to bring the bat outside and let it go free without hurting it.

Even though they are a nuisance for many homes in this Americus neighborhood, Department of Natural Resources rangers warn that some species are endangered, so killing them is against the law.

"The other option is to get a licensed nuisance wildlife person. We have some of them around and pay them to do the removal," said Steve Ruckel.

But that can mean big bucks some people in Americus aren't ready to spend. Community-wide discussions of the issue will continue, even though some have dealt with the bats for so long it's just a part of daily living.

"Most folks would jump out of their skin, but after a while you just kinda get used to it, see where it lands and go pick it up," said Skipper.

Easy for Skipper to say. For others it's either thousands of dollars for bat extermination, or thousands of bats flying around their neighborhood.

The DNR warns that some bats do carry diseases such as rabies and having a colony in your home can cause respiratory problems.

Rangers suggest covering up any small holes around your home to help avoid infestation.

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