Bryant-Batty Stadium: Alabama finding new home for big bat colony

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Caleb Aguayo

If you’ve ever hung around Bryant-Denny Stadium near dusk, you’ll have likely seen thousands of bats taking off from their cozy home under the upper bowl. Now, those bats are finding a new, more appropriate dwelling with the help of the University of Alabama.

On Wednesday, March 8, a crew worked on scaffolding high in the air and directly underneath the Upper Bowl section. It’s unclear just how many bats have made their home at Bryant-Denny, but one worker suggested it could be “millions.”

Alabama Professional Services Vice President Roger House said bats are excellent mosquito eliminators, but they’re a potential public health concern when they set up shop in the wrong spot.

“They do damage by their urine and their guano, which is their bat droppings,” House said.

That waste can make metal rust, and the smell isn’t that great, either. In fact, it can cause serious health issues.

If humans breathe in too much guano, they can develop histoplasmosis.

“It constricts your lungs where you can’t breathe as heavy as you like to, or normal like you like to,” said House.

In addition, some bats carry “bat bugs,” which are are similar to bed bugs.

“This bug does not carry any kind of disease, but the saliva can cause that infection and make you want to scratch,” House said.

Rabies is another major concern, because bats are a common carrier. If you’re bitten by a rabid animal and not treated, rabies is nearly 100% fatal.

Some bat species in Alabama are endangered, meaning they can’t be taken out like a rat infestation. Instead, they’re carefully moved. That’s what happened at the Kentuck Arts Center in 2013, when a colony of brown myotis bats made their home in the center’s ceiling.

If you ever come across a bat, leave it alone, House said. If there’s one trapped in your home, it’s best to call experts.

“Let a professional look at it to make sure that they get rid of them,” he said. “Because otherwise, you’re going to have issues or you’re going to get bitten.”

Workers at the site said the relocation will continue into Thursday, March 9.

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