AUSTIN (KXAN) — Don’t touch downed bats, the Austin Animal Center says. Officials say they have received reports of anywhere from 60-100 downed bats in areas around Austin after last week’s winter storm and sub-freezing temperatures.
They are urging people not to touch the dead bats or let their pets pick them up due to the elevated risk of rabies among bats.
If you see bats on the ground, AAC says it’s best to call 311 and report it so animal protection officers can go check it out.
“We’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not sure that anything like this has ever happened with this kind of mortality in the bat population. We’ve never had that heavy of a freeze for that long,” said Dianne Odegard, executive director with Austin Bat Refuge.
The Austin area is famous for its bats, particularly the Mexican free-tailed bat, and people line up on the Congress Avenue bridge to watch the migratory bats take off at dusk during spring and summer.
Visit Austin says the bats eat 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects per night when they go out, including those pesky mosquitoes.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also wants people to report to them if they see dead or distressed animals in nature.
The subfreezing temps last week paired with limited food resources affected wildlife, but more reports and observations are needed to determine the full impact, TPWD said.
The department is also concerned about the bat population after the area’s deep freeze, along with some species of birds and deer.