Students aren’t the only ones roaming campus late at night.
To date, there have been six reports of bats in campus buildings, including the Dunlap-King (DK) Hall, 25 W. Home St., the Campus Center, Towers Hall and Roush Hall. In each instance, Otterbein’s bat team, made up of 12 zoo and conservation science majors, was called, and the bat was safely captured and relocated.
“One time, I was called about a bat in my residence hall. Three people were running up and down the stairwell trying to catch two bats,” said Eileen Connon, student hall director of Mayne Hall and senior zoo and conservation science and biology double major. “As I walked in, all I could hear was ‘Ah, here it is! Oh no, there it goes! It went that way! No, it went this way!’ It’s a good thing the bat team was on their way.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, bats can enter buildings through an opening as small as one-fourth to one-half inches. During the winter, bats seek shelter in buildings to avoid the cold and remain unseen until they start rummaging for food.
Bats pose serious safety concerns, including being one of the highest vectors for spreading rabies. The Ohio Wildlife Center trains Otterbein's bat team to safely handle animals. Individuals on the bat team are also required to stay up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
Prior to the bat team, the Otterbein service department or police department responded to calls, putting their own health at risk.
While bats may incite fear, they also offer many benefits to the community. According to the Ohio Department of Health, bats are a major predator of night-flying insects like moths. Several species of bats also pollinate plants.
Local populations of bats have decreased, and many species are now endangered.
“It’s more than ever now that we need to respect the bats, and we need to be protecting them,” said senior zoo and conservation science major Kyle Turner.
What to do if you see a bat or unwanted animal in a campus building:
The bat team responds to any report of varmints on campus, including bats, skunks and raccoons. To report an animal, call the Otterbein Police Department (O.P.D.) at their non-emergency line, (614) 823-1222. Once notified, O.P.D. will call Otterbein’s Environmental Health and Safety Officer and the bat team to properly capture and release the animal.