I just found out about this today. One of the bridges I’ve been working on for years that finally got underway on construction is now being put on hold because they have found hundreds of bats on the existing bridge raising their young. Somehow the story was put out on the wire by AP and immediately picked up by all kinds of newspapers and websites across the country. It looks like once the babies grow up the bats will move on. Then we will have to tear down the old bridge because the new one goes in the same place. For now the traffic has been diverted to a temporary bridge across the creek. I’m not mentioned or quoted in the article (in the extended entry).
Though the text of the articles is the same as the AP release, the headlines varied:
Bridge man, don’t touch those bats (Kansas City Star)
Bat Season Delays Ga. Bridge Demolition (Yahoo and most others)
Bat babies delay bridge demolition (CNN)
Bat maternity season delays bridge demolition in Georgia (WCCO – Minneapolis)
Make way for baby bats (MSNBC)
Bats at Work: Georgia DOT yields to helpful critters (Winston-Salem Journal)
Baby bat season delays bridge work (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Quand les chauves-souris stoppent les démolisseurs (Sympatico – Quebec)
Most of the stories didn’t have pictures, but
OMAHA, Georgia (AP) — The baby bats clinging to their mothers under the Talipahoga Creek bridge look like space aliens, with their gray, scrawny bodies and pointed ears.
But the way Georgia highway officials see it, they are still babies. And until they are big enough to fly away on their own, a project to demolish the bridge will just have to wait.
“I appreciate our animal friends,” said Billy Willis, president of Albany’s Southern Concrete Construction Co. “You’ve got to live and let live.”
Just before the demolition project was to begin early last month, someone noticed the colony of 200 free-tailed bats living under the bridge.
Biologists confirmed that some were pregnant, and the state and the contractor agreed to postpone the work until mid-August.
Free-tailed bats are a common species in Georgia, but they are protected by state law just like most other non-game species.
The bats are not visible during the day, but their clucks, chirping and twittering resonate beneath the bridge, about 30 miles south of Columbus.
Jim Ozier, a Georgia state biologist who studies bats, said the animals often roost under bridges because the concrete holds a lot of heat.
“Plus, they can forage along streams and wetland areas to eat pests, such as mosquitoes, moths and beetles,” he said.
Ozier hopes to work with the Transportation Department on building bat houses under other bridges.
“There are a few things people assume are bad, like snakes, bats and spiders,” he said. “But for the most part they aren’t damaging and they do some good things.”