Town budgets thousands of dollars to fight bat problem

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

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BURKE COUNTY, N.C. —

A bat problem has one town in Burke County budgeting thousands of dollars to get rid of the pests.  

Dozens of them are living in a building adjacent to the Hildebran Town Hall tonight.  

There are homes and even an elementary school near the infested building.   

Channel 9 went out Tuesday night to see the problem up close.  

Just as the sun was setting over Hildebran, Channel 9 spotted dozens of bats flying over the town municipal buildings.  

Mayor Jenny Cook took Channel 9 around the back of the old high school to show Dave Faherty the tiny hole allowing the bats to get in and out of the building. The town is currently not using the building, but hopes to one day and that means the bats have to go.  

"It's just up there in the eaves," Cook said.

"Bats are useful creatures.  God wouldn't have given them to us of there wasn't some need for them," Cook said.

Already the town of Hildebran has set aside $19,000 to remove the bats, which can devour their body weight in insects in one night.    

But the cost and where they will end up has some folks who live nearby concerned.

"I know they need to get rid of them but it seems like an awful big expense," said resident Michael Townsend.

"It's eerie. I don't know how to explain it, all these bats coming around,” said resident Patsy Paige.

Wildlife experts said it is illegal to kill, trap, or handle bats. Because of that, tubes are put over holes on the building allowing the bats to fly out but not in.  

At Espey's Hardware they are prepared for the process by selling bat tubes.  

Dustin Holloway said bats get a bad rap.

"(It’s) very important.  Mosquito population, they keep it down where it is supposed to be," said Holloway.

Cook said they don’t have a timetable on when they will install the tubes and there is no way to know where the bats will next call home.