Dawson residents learn how to combat bats - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dawson residents learn how to combat bats

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

September 9, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some folks in Terrell County are fed up with bats. It's a fairly common nuisance in older homes and businesses throughout South Georgia and people in Dawson want some help getting rid of them.

When the sun goes down and the moon comes up in Dawson, bats shoot out from church steeples and the cracks and crevices of homes. "They swarm like bees," said Don Salter, "kind of freaks you out a little bit."

Don and Cindy Salter moved to Dawson from Atlanta three years ago. "We had no idea that our house was full of them," said Cindy Salter.

One night they came home to a frightening surprise. "One evening we saw about 200 flying out of our house, just one after another," said Cindy. The next morning as those bats tried to get back in their home, one left a mark. "They were panicking like crazy," said Cindy, "had one of them fly on my back and bite me."

A few rabies shots later and the Salters don't want anymore bites or bats.  "I just wish somebody in Dawson would help us," said Cindy.

"I think the city needs to step up and do something about it," said Don.

Several Dawson residents fed up with the flying mammals filled City Hall for solutions from bat experts. "If they get inside a building where someone is trying to live or conduct business, they can really be a problem," said Jim Ozier with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

But although they're a nuisance, it's actually illegal for people to kill them. They're protected by state law and they serve a purpose. "There's certainly two sides to the bad equation. They do play valuable roles in nature. They eat lots of insects, control some that are even harmful pests for crops," said Ozier.

The only way to get rid of them is to figure out where they're coming in and then fix it so they can get out, but not get back in.  One method is called exclusion.

"Some of the older or more elaborate houses where you've got more places for structural damage to occur, they can be real complex to deal with," said Ozier.

The Salters fear the bats have made permanent homes all over the city. "Breeding, breeding, breeding," said Cindy.

They've since sealed holes around their home and wish the bats would just stay away. "I hope. We'll see. We're going to start looking again in the evening time," said Cindy.

Experts say home and business owners have to be persistent and patient. The USDA office in Newton is willing to take a look at problem areas. You can call them at 229-734-4837.

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