Effort begins to remove bats from American Legion building in Maiden

MAIDEN, NC (WBTV) - A wildlife removal expert has started the process of removing bats from the American Legion Post 240 building in Maiden. The bats have called the building home for several years but lately they have reached staggering numbers.

"Probably a thousand or more," said Jeff Truitt, who has a wildlife removal service. Officials speculate that the bats may have migrated from a school building, which is located across the street, when they were removed from there.

The bats at the American Legion Post 240 are not inside the building but are in the hollow concrete blocks in the walls. They escape nightly so that they can eat by going out through small openings in the tiles on top of the blocks and through louvered vents on the sides.

"I have never seen them inside the building," John Houser said, who is a post member. The bats cannot be killed because they are protected. One way to remove the bats would be to wait until they migrate in the fall, says Truitt, and then seal all openings.

Post members, though, have been told no activities can be scheduled for the inside ballroom until the bats are gone.

Truitt says he is sealing a majority of the entry points and making a single escape route for the bats. The escape route is made with a plastic bag so that when the bats return before dawn they cannot get back in. "They look for somewhere else to live," said Truitt.

Andrew Huff, who lives across the street from the post building, hopes the bats don't look at his home as their new home. "It's the numbers of them that worry me," Huff said.

Experts say bats are not dangerous unless you touch them and are actually good to have around. "They eat tons of mosquitoes and bugs," Truitt said.

Folks in Maiden may see quite a few bats over the next few days as they search for new homes, but Truitt says you don't need to be alarmed.  "They are not looking to attack you," Truitt said.

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