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It seems the Warrick County Museum has become more of a bat cave than a historic preservation site. It's costing more than $20,000 to get the situation under control. The facility was already facing massive financial problems due to its desperate need for an air conditioning unit. Now, the animals are sucking the blood out of the museums already tight budget.
Keeping history alive is one thing but providing a home for an endangered species is another. For decades Indiana brown bats have been lurking in the museum's attic. More than a thousand were discovered two years ago during building repairs. Officials are working to remove the animals and 'bat proof' the building. They're about the size of a mouse and can squeeze into a quarter inch opening. Harming one could land you a spot in federal prison.
"These animals eat 2 to 3 times their body weight in insects. So, they're definitely good for the environment," said John Humes with Critter Control. "Yes, they're on the endangered species list. You would think with all the laws protecting them there would be federal funding but there is not," said Mark Gentry with the Warrick County Museum.
So far, attic repairs and removal of the bats has racked up a $20,000 bill. It could cost $15,000 more because after two years the bats keep coming back. "Their droppings if disturbed the dust can cause you histoplasmosis. It starts off as a lung infection and it can get worse even fatal," said Humes.
Officials say visitors to the museum are not in danger because the bats are isolated to the attic and the number has dwindled from more than a thousand to around a hundred.
The Warrick County Museum is asking for donations to help pay for the cost of removal.
Credits: By Sarah Fortune, Fox 7 WTVW