Grantsville High School is battling bats.
Tooele County School District maintenance staff took action last week to exclude a colony of bats from their home under the roof of Granstville High School, but the school’s staff is still dealing with a few bats that have come home to roost.
“It started last week when a member of the community reported that while she was out at night, she saw bats flying out from under the school’s roof,” said GHS Principal Mark Ernst.
Ernst notified the district’s building maintenance staff and they inspected the building’s roof. They discovered a cover for a joint between two parts of the roof was missing, which allowed bats to infiltrate under the roof and establish a colony, according to Steve West, Tooele County School District construction coordinator.
“We had a maintenance employee come over to the school last Wednesday night [Aug. 27] and wait until it looked liked all the bats had exited and then he replaced the cover to keep the bats from returning,” West said.
Some of the bats have returned home since last Wednesday, according to Ernst.
“I’m not sure how, maybe through an open door, some bats have returned to the building to find their former home,” he said. “After last Wednesday we found up to 10 bats a day in the building.”
The number of bats found has diminished every day. On Wednesday only two dead bats were found in the school, according to Ernst.
Most of the returning bats were found by the school’s custodial staff when they come in early to work around 4:30 a.m., Ernst said.
The custodians try to catch and release the bats, however, a few have been killed or found dead, according to Ernst.
It is illegal to intentionally kill a bat in Utah; they are a protected species according to state law.
However, state law does allow the killing of a wild animal, including bats, if there is imminent danger of an attack that might cause injury or death to a person.
The school district has contacted a wildlife management company that will inspect the school and determine what steps the district needs to take to keep bats from returning, relocate any remaining bats, and clean up the site of the former colony, West said.
“We don’t have any reason to believe that the bats have been a danger to any students,” Ernst said.