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Bats evicted as overpass repairs seal habitat

By Melissa Crowe
Dec. 25, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.
Updated Dec. 26, 2012 at 6:26 a.m.


Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat

• Medium-sized bat with broad ears, large feet and the end of its tail free. Short, velvety, reddish to black-colored fur.

• Can live up to 11 years in the wild.

• Eats moths, beetles, flying ants and June bugs.

• Habitats include caves, mine tunnels, old wells, hollow trees, human habitations, bridges and other buildings.

• This bat is a known carrier of rabies, but caution should be exercised when encountering any bat species.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Repairs to the Loop 463 overpass at Navarro Street had some Victorians concerned for the well-being of the bats living there.

Trent Tienert, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said his office received a complaint that bats living at the overpass were sealed out of their home as a result of repairs.

Texas Department of Transportation Engineer Randy Bena said crews sealed up cracks on the overpass a few months ago, but were unaware of any bats using it has a habitat.

"After rain falls, we had water leaching through the cracks and leaving mold on the stone face, so we sealed up those cracks in hopes to take care of that," Bena said.

Bena said he was unaware of any complaint about allegedly "running off the bats," the state flying mammal of Texas.

Because it is a man-made structure, the possibility of those repairs turning into a criminal act against the animals is slim, Tienert said.

"As long as the bats weren't physically removed and as long as once they left, they were excluded from returning, that's perfectly legal," Tienert said. "If it were a cave or cavern, a natural structure, it would be illegal to go in and harm the bats or to exclude them from returning to that structure."

More than likely, the bats were Brazilian free-tailed bats, commonly known as Mexican free-tailed bats.

They were once protected under the migratory bird treaty act, but that has since been repealed, Tienert said.

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