A colony of 150 bats must be relocated from the Rogers County Planning Commission building on 212 South Missouri. Until then, planning commission employees must move their offices.

Temporarily, the planning commission will work out of the conference room on the first floor of the county courthouse, but Assistant District Attorney Barry Farbro is working with potential landlords to find an inexpensive office space for the interim.

“Skunk Whisperer” Ned Bruha of Tulsa is an expert in wildlife removal and prevention.

“You don’t have a bat problem,” Bruha told county commissioners Monday. “You have a building problem.”

The slanted roof put on the commission building approximately eight years ago is the problem.

“It’s a perfect, perfect home for bats to go into,” said Bruha. The bats are apparently coming in under the metal flashing of the roof. Bruha said the bats should be moved in September after babies are big enough to fly. He advised against moving the bats now.

Dead bats mean a strong odor that could never be removed from the building. In addition, Bruha said bats are beneficial to the ecosystem and consume disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Bat houses will be set up immediately to attract the mammals. The bat houses can then be moved and the bats evicted from their planning commission home. Ceiling tile and insulation will be removed, and the building must be sealed and sanitized.

Bat guano has been accumulating for seven-to-eight years, but Bruha said “there is not an excessive build up.”

Bruha has International Bat Exclusion Expert certification, meaning he is trained and certified to help with the removal and relocation of bats. Bruha has removed bats from a number of homes and buildings.

Bruha warned that the 150 bat colony could produce up to 300 babies by fall. He said the bats, though very small, are probably large brown bats and can have two babies each. Small brown bats have one live baby each.

The smell of one dead bat can fill a 3,000 sq. foot home with a vile odor, said Bruha. There are other issues to consider as well.

“From a conservation standpoint, it’s best to keep them alive,” he said.

Bats are the only mammals capable of natural flight. There are estimated to be over a thousand species world wide.

According to Bat Conservation International, Inc. (BCI), “Only two diseases have been transmitted from bats to humans in North America: histoplasmosis and rabies. Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease caused by a fungus that grows in soil enriched by animal droppings, most frequently birds. Ninety percent of all reported cases in humans come from the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and adjacent areas where warm, humid conditions favor fungal growth.”

Because mold is produced by heat and humidity, bat guano in caverns does not normally produce the fungus. Caverns maintain a cool 50-70 degree temperature.

The danger of rabies is of less concern than that of histoplasmosis.

“The North American bat species most frequently found in our homes or bat houses, big and little brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus and Myotis lucifugus), are not known to have caused a single case of human rabies in the past 15 years,” said the BCI website.

For more information on bats, see the BCI website, www.batcon.org

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