DARBOY - You might expect the roughly 140-year-old Holy Angels Catholic Church in Darboy to have at least some bats in it.
But when a maintenance worker went to check out a roof leak...
"And lo and behold, when he opened up the attic roof, he found that he had seen some bat droppings," said Patty Vande Voort, Holy Spirit Parish business administrator. "We didn't anticipate a bat colony in the church at all."
Vande Voort says the leaky roof has now turned into a $100,000-plus project; to get rid of the bats, prevent them from coming back and repairing insulation damage. And the roof still has to be replaced.
And the work will impact services.
Starting March 4, Darboy parishioners will hold service at the parish's sister church in Kimberly.
Animal experts say the removal of the bats isn't a very easy process, as bats in Wisconsin are protected and it's the middle of winter.
"Going into temperatures like this and with snow storm coming and with...and not being a food source out, that would be very detrimental to them," said Lori Bankson, animal curator at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay.
Bankson says as several Wisconsin bats are protected species, much care is needed to protect them from environmental threats. But also from humans.
"They are rabies vector species. And just like a lot of mammals out in Wisconsin wildlife, that is a concern," said Bankson.
Vande Voort says no bats have been found in the body of the church.
The parish hopes to use a diocese endowment to cover some of the costs. The rest, through fundraising. The parish hopes the work to be finished by April 1.
Both the state and the Outagamie County Health Department have signed off on the plan to get rid of the bats.
The parish didn't have an exact number on the amount of bats in the church attic. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says, typically during this time of year, a colony can range between 10 and 100 bats.
You may remember another story concerning a bat and a church.
In 2004, Jeanna Giese contracted rabies when she was scratched by a bat at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Fond du Lac. A month later, she became very sick. It was too late for Giese to receive the rabies vaccine. She survived after receiving an experimental treatment, becoming the first person known to survive rabies without receiving the vaccine.
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