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Cuero takes another crack at downtown bat problem

By Sonny Long
Oct. 22, 2013 at 5:22 a.m.
Updated Oct. 23, 2013 at 5:23 a.m.

Bat biologist Jim Kennedy explains how a bat's skeletal makeup is not dissimilar to a human ... except for the "hands." Kennedy presented a program on bats Tuesday in Cuero.

Learn more about Keep Cuero Beautiful

For information about the nonprofit group, visit keepcuerobeautiful.org.

CUERO - Cuero is taking another swing at cracking its decades-old bat problem - this time with more muscle.

The Cuero Main Street Program hosted bat expert Jim Kennedy, whose presentation Tuesday allowed attendees to learn and to get advice about dealing with a longtime bat issue in downtown.

In 2006, the nonprofit organization Keep Cuero Beautiful began a similar campaign and generated some interest, but the campaign fell short of needed funding.

The city of Cuero and the Cuero Development Corporation fund the Main Street Program.

"KCB at the time couldn't get the city interested in helping with the issue - probably too many other issues on the table," said Cuero Mayor Sara Meyer, also a longtime Keep Cuero Beautiful member.

"Several property owners in the downtown district did take the information to heart and did what they could to their building to keep the bats out, but not all did, so the bats migrated next door.

"Now, hopefully, something can be done in the next couple of years," said the mayor.

That process began this week as Kennedy, a bat biologist, presented an information program on the flying mammals.

Kennedy also toured downtown to observe firsthand Cuero's problem.

One location, the H. Runge Bank Building, 133 E. Main St., had a colony he estimated to be between 6,000 and 7,000 bats.

"You have a bat problem. I wouldn't say it's a big bat problem," Kennedy told the Main Street board members, downtown building and business owners and city officials who attended.

"Every small, older city in Texas has bats," he said. "You go anyplace if you have old historic buildings like this, with the kind of construction we have, you're going to have bats."

Kennedy said the biggest problem is that some of the abandoned, neglected buildings have easy access for bats.

"A lot of people don't have the money to maintain buildings like this. I get it. But that's why we have bats," he said.

Robert Oliver, of Cuero, is in the process of buying the Runge building.

He plans to turn the second floor into a loft apartment and make the ground floor available for commercial lease, he said.

Bridgette Bise, Cuero Main Street director, said Tuesday's meeting is the next step in the process of addressing the bat issue.

"We will continue to draft plans, establish a timeframe, get all the partners together and continue to move forward," Bise said.

Kennedy's presentation included information about the benefits of bats, especially in pest control and how to relocate them safely from the buildings to bat houses.

Kennedy said studies have shown that bats have an $8.6 million positive impact on American farmers.

"The bats are helping us," he said. "Let's help them."

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