By Jamie Rieger
A Bow Island resident got quite a surprise recently when he was working in his kitchen and noticed a bat hanging around in the corner.
Fred Mellen said there was a bit of squealing from both he and the bat as he tried to capture it. Once he had wrangled the varmint, he made a call to the Alberta Fish and Wildlife office in Foremost who suggested he bring the bat into the office. When Mellen said he was unable to do that, they suggested sending it. Again, Mellen said he could not do that.
“Then, they suggested I throw it in the garbage,” said Mellen.
Officer Corey Craig with the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Lethbridge office said that while he does not recommend killing bats that come into homes, he said people should instead catch and release them unless the bat comes in contact with a human or an animal.
“If there has been no contact with a human or an animal, such as a pet; just release it. We are not testing bats that have not and in this case, it does not sound like it has,” he said.
Alberta Environment and Parks has a number of tips for if people encounter bats on their property:
-If a bat is sleeping on the outside of a building, leave it alone. It will fly away by nightfall when it wakes up to feed.
-Bats that accidently get inside the house will most likely find their way out if you leave a window or door open.
– A sleeping bat can also be captured by covering it with a large, empty coffee can and gently sliding a piece of cardboard between the can and the surface the bat is sleeping on.
-Once the bat is trapped inside, take the coffee can outside and let the bat fly away.
– To give the bat a chance to fly away safely, make sure children and pets stay inside when you release it.
-When the bat is in mid-flight, do not attempt to capture it or to swat at it using a broom or stick. You will injure the bat.
-Bats can enter a building through an opening as small as 3/8 inch in diameter. Bats take advantage of existing holes in the structure of your house and are unable to chew to create new holes to use as entryways.
-To prevent bats from entering your house, cover all gaps and holes in eaves, chimneys, roof vents and siding with º inch hardware cloth. The best time to do this is at night after the bats have flown away to feed or in the fall after the bats have migrated.
– Never bat-proof your house in June or July, as flightless young may be trapped inside and, without an escape exit, will starve to death and leave an unpleasant odour in your house.
– After the bat has vacated the building you may need to clean up the guano left behind. Dried guano becomes a powdery substance that can grow a type of fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. Spores from this fungus, if inhaled, can cause a lung infection called histoplasmosis. To prevent this, spray the guano with a 1:10 bleach and water solution to hold down the dust and kill the fungus, then remove the guano.
Call a Fish and Wildlife officer if:
-you notice the bat is behaving unusually, such as flying during daylight hours
-you need specific advice on bats on your property
-you want to discuss removal techniques