Hundreds of bats discovered and removed from Highland High
Aug 24, 2023, 8:26 PM | Updated: Aug 25, 2023, 10:24 am
SALT LAKE CITY — Students and teachers at Highland High School this week had some extra critters joining them in their classrooms. Hundreds of bats were discovered when students returned after the summer.
In a video taken Tuesday night by Instagram user absolute.liability, staff in the school could be seen dodging and attempting to capture one of the bats.
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“A few bats had gone into the hallways and some of the other classrooms and we remove those bats,” said Shawn Pladas, Wildlife Conservation Biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is working to safely get the bats out of Highland High. They’ve contracted with a private critter removal company to safely relocate the mammals.
On Wednesday, DWR Officials found about 70 Mexican or Brazilian Free-tailed bats in a colony in a third-floor classroom. They also found a colony of approximately 100 to 150 bats outside and on the roof.
“There was another source population outside of that that was roosting in the areas up on the building, not inside in the active spaces where there are people walking around but on the outside of the building,” Pladas said.
Pladas said these types of migratory bats love spaces that mimic caves and cliffs. So, an empty school in the summer is the perfect place for the young pups to roost.
“We kind of have these larger buildings that might imitate some of their natural habitat(s), where it’s cliffs or it’s high trees where they’re trying to get into a higher place,” Pladas said.
It took an outside company working with the DWR one evening to remove all the bats inside the school.
Highland High bats won’t get back inside the school
They also set up devices so any bats left behind will be able to get out of the air ducts, but they won’t be able to get back inside.
“We set up these exclusion devices where we can get bats coming out of the building, but they just can’t get back into the building,” said Pladas. “You kind of have these doors that flip or switch or these plastic sheets, they just don’t go back up in, so then they can go off and find a new location to roost.”
The Salt Lake County Health Department is also monitoring two people who work at the school, after they came into close contact with the bats.
“We don’t take any chances with rabies, so even the most minor contact like a bat brushing against you qualifies as contact,” Nicholas Rupp with Salt Lake County said.
The bats didn’t bite anybody at the school according to both Pladas and Rupp.
Pladas said there is a misconception about bats, and the health risk they pose to the public.
“Being in proximity to bats is not going to pose any substantial health risks, the big issue we have is when we have people who are going to out try to pick up bats or handle bats, that’s when you get into a situation where a bat might scratch or bite somebody,” he said.