Bats in the belfry mean big bucks in the budget for one town - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Bats in the belfry mean big bucks in the budget for one town

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HILDEBRAN, NC (WBTV) -

They are the subject of horror movies, and the tools of science fiction writers. Bats have been portrayed as scary little creatures, but that's far from the truth.

"They are good neighbors," says the Town of Hildebran's mayor Jennie Cook. While that may be true, the town is embarking on a $19,000 quest to get rid of them in an old school building it owns.

Hildebran wants to use the building someday but right now, it is home to hundreds of bats. "They need to find another home," says Cook.

The building is locked up but there are enough openings in the eaves and chimneys for the bats to come and go at night. Their voracious appetite for flying insects is one positive for those living nearby like the mayor.

"I have no problems with mosquitos and bugs with the bats around." The problem is that they do leave behind a lot of waste and inside the old school building it is piling up.

Many bats are protected so the town can't just hire an exterminator. Instead, experts will study where the bats have found a way into the building and wait for nightfall when the critters leave and plug those holes up. In effect, the bats will have to relocate themselves.

Once the bats are out of the building the real expense begins. "Cleaning it all up will not be cheap," says Cook.

It also means the bats could find new places to live in nearby homes. People are being advised to close up all openings to chimneys and eaves. The project won't begin until late July so officials believe people will have plenty of time to look over their property and take action to keep the bats out.

Some hardware stores sell bat boxes that can be mounted on the side of a house with enough room for a dozen or so bats to live. That would provide some natural predators for the mosquitos and other flying insects without having too many taking up residence at any one home.

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