Huge Bat Colony Looking for a New Home
How do you move one of the state’s largest urban bat colonies to a new location? Two state agencies are working together to find a solution that works best for people and wildlife.
A large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats has inhabited a Huntsville cotton warehouse operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) since 1997, nearing an estimated 1 million today. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is advising TDCJ staff who want to safely move the bats because the warehouse is showing signs of instability.
The bats use the structure as a maternity roost, migratory stopover and hibernation site. Every night in warmer months, the bats leave to feed on insects high above Huntsville, sometimes traveling up to 100 miles in search of food.
The best time to make the move is when bats are more active in migration, not during their summertime breeding period, so TPWD is advising the agency on alternative roost site accommodations. If TDCJ is able to build the accommodations, the hope is that the bats will find their new digs attractive.
TDCJ tore down a section of the warehouse in March that was largely unoccupied by bats and is closely watching the dilapidated portions still being used by the bats. TDCJ is working with the community to manage the demolition and exclusion process and has set up a steering committee to explore solutions.
Want to support bat conservation efforts? Go to batcon.org to find ways you can help bats.
TPWD staff; Karine Aigner | Minden
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