Dozens of bats invade Utah courthouse

AP News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2014 5:08 PM

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Order is being restored to the courthouse in St. George with the removal of dozens of bats from the building.

The Brazilian free-tailed bats were discovered when employees arrived for work Thursday at the 5th Judicial District Courthouse.

More than 50 bats were removed Thursday and Friday from the attic and other areas of the building, said Eric Palmer of Southwest Exterminators.

Zac Weiland, a Washington County deputy prosecutor, said he heard scratching noises when he walked into court Friday morning. Bats were in the ceiling, hallways, stairwells and even inside courtrooms.

"I don't like bats. I saw (one) crawling, and it's stuck in a little lamp, and I'm like, 'I'm done, I want out,' " he told KSL.

Court officials said while the bats caused minimal disruptions in court operations, some proceedings had to be moved from one courtroom to another.

Suspected entry points opened up during a recent renovation project were sealed to keep bats out of the building, said Nancy Volmer, Utah state courts spokeswoman.

"We are investigating to find all entries so we can prevent this from happening again," Volmer told The Spectrum of St. George. "There may be other ways they could have gotten in."

Because Brazilian free-tailed bats are a species of special concern in Utah, the state Division of Wildlife Resources took the lead in removing them with the help of Southwest Exterminators. The bats were being released back into the wild.

Officials hope to have all bats out of the building by the time court proceedings resume on Monday. It was unclear how many others remain.

"It's unusual, there's no doubt about that. This is a first, I think, for the courts," Volmer said.