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Warning ... Please don’t disturb the bats

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- You might hear that bats are dirty pests that people would be better off without. 

But, is that true? Not really. 

Bats aren't animals to be feared. They're an important part of Georgia's natural environment and they're great at controlling insects.

In the last few weeks, bats have been identified on the outside of the dorms in Bldg. 756. 

They pose no threat to humans and are simply seeking a place to raise their young. Relocating bats during the winter is difficult because the food supply - insects - is dormant. That causes bats to be in a mild form of hibernation. Forcing them out will only cause them to relocate, potentially in other buildings or out of the area.

Georgia State University estimates bats eat enough insects to save the North American agricultural industry $50 billion in pesticides. 

In an effort to keep our bat population alive and healthy and eating our bugs and mosquitos, we have added a "Bat House Decorating Competition" to our Earth Day activities as a means of ridding buildings of bat colonies. 

Environmental Management will be holding its first Bat House Decorating Competition for squadrons. 

The houses are designed especially for bats and are accessed from the bottom so other birds can't build nests in them. When located and built correctly, the houses have proven to be very effective at relocating bat colonies naturally. Often, no human interaction is required.

If your squadron is interested in participating in the competition, contact Mark Hickman at DSN 327-8288. Return the decorated bat house by April 22. The boxes will be judged by a team, and volunteers will install them across Robins. 

Contact the 78th CE, Natural Resource manager for questions regarding bat houses at DSN 468-9645.

If you see a bat where it shouldn't be, call 478-808-9702 so trained professionals can handle the situation. 

So, for their sake and yours, please just leave the bats alone.

What to know: As part of the Earth Day program and as a means of ridding buildings of bat colonies, Environmental Management will be holding the first annual "Bat Box Decorating Competition" for squadrons.

Bat boxes are designed especially for bats and are accessed from the bottom so other birds cannot build nests in them. Please do not modify the structure of the box in any way.

Contact Mark Hickman at 327-8288 to obtain a bat box. Return the decorated box by April 22. The boxes will be judged by a team and then volunteers will install all the boxes across Robins. The winning squadron will receive a trophy.

Did you know
MYTH: Bats are dirty blood suckers and attack people.  FACT: Bats are beneficial! In the U.S., bats eat insects and fruits. Bats are afraid of humans just like most wild animals and don't interact with people.

MYTH: Bats carry diseases.  FACT:  Yes, like other wild animals. However, people who have contracted diseases - like rabies - from bats didn't get infected from an attack, but from trying to touch or pick up a bat and were subsequently bitten.

MYTH: Bats sometimes move into buildings or other places that people don't want them.  FACT:  OK, that myth is true, but bats are just looking for a home. Everybody needs a home, right?