Texas A&M University has had a huge population of bats living on its campus for as long as it’s been open, with the football stadium, Kyle Field, having long doubled as one of the largest bat habitats in the region for much of that time. The school does an admirable job trying to coexist peacefully with the bats, but they have had major bat infestation problems on their hands in the past when the population of the bat city grew too large for the stadium to host them all or when renovations and efforts to eradicate these bats forced them to find shelter elsewhere on campus. This has caused numerous problems for the school and its students over the years, with some of the stories of crazy bat infestations sounding impossibly absurd.
Several thousand bats live in the university’s Kyle Field throughout the year. At other certain times of the year when the animals are migrating, passing through the Brazos Valley surrounding the school, those numbers skyrocket to the hundreds of thousands. Thankfully, the bats are mostly harmless and only come in contact with humans occasionally. In 2000, a student studying barefoot in the A&M library had a bat fly into her empty shoe and got bitten, but that’s about the worst of it. Even though bats aren’t causing much trouble in terms of direct contact with humans, they do also come with some health concerns and other unsanitary side effects that ultimately convinced the university that they needed to get rid of some of their bat residents. In the fall fans would have to sit through football games trying not to let the pungent smell of bat guano make them empty their stomach on the person sitting in front of them. The guano pretty much covered the entire stadium; the walls stained with it and the ground covered in it. Sometimes, when a bats aim was off, they might defecate on a concession stand, a serious health concern since the stadium tends to be packed with people that are eating from those concession stands. The university began its effort to remove the bats in 2013 when they had nets hung in some concourses that let the bats fly out of the stadium, but prevented them from flying back in. They demolished other sections of the stadium to replace them with brand new amenities.
This, unfortunately, left these several thousand to hundreds of thousand bats to find another home, and they didn’t stray far. The natatorium quickly became their new hotspot, forcing the school to completely shut down the pool to remove the hundreds of bats that had turned the usually busy hub of human activity into their new home. The swimming pool wasn’t the only place on campus invaded, however, as over a thousand moved to Cain Hall, which contains the university’s student counseling department. One employee reported finding several dead bats in her closet. Many were also spotted in the school’s gym. The university used the same method on the natatorium as it had used on Kyle Field, hanging up giant nets near where the bats were entering the building. To try and make up for the homes they lost, the university began building large bat houses around the campus for the bats to move to instead.
Have you ever seen a giant swarm of bats flying together in a public area where there were a lot of humans around?