Bat Removal at a Historic Church
On July 6th 2006 I inspected a historic church in central Massachusetts that had housed a large colony of bats for a number of years. The church was getting ready to undergo a large renovation project. Before any contractors could begin work the bats had to be evicted and the bat droppings had to be removed from the attic space.
The pictures below show the existing conditions of the building's attic space and clock tower area
During the inspection I found the bats to be entering just below the roof of the clock tower. There is a gap that has opened up between the aluminum soffit and the roofing material. The bats are currently using this gap on all 4 sides of the clock tower. The pictures below illustrate this entry point.
Inside the Clock Tower
The pictures below were taken in the stairwell of the clock tower while walking up to the roof. There were approximately 40-50 bats roosting in this area.
Roof of the Clock Tower
On the roof of the Clock Tower there are 4 decorative columns, one on each corner of the roof. Over the years these columns have deteriorated and holes have opened up in the base of the columns as the wood has rotted. This has created an exceptional roosting place for a colony of bats. The bats have now taken up residence in two of the 4 columns. This is an extraordinary situation in that these columns have become unintentional bat boxes and a large colony of bats now reside in them. An amazing example of wild animals adapting to their surroundings.
The hole in one of the columns was large enough for me to fit my camera inside to take some pictures. As I did this the bats were startled and some of them began exiting the column and flying away. I managed to take a few pictures of these bats as they exited as you can see below.
Bat Guano in the Attic-Space
The bat guano inside the church is mostly concentrated into 3 areas.
These 3 areas are, inside the clock tower, the area of the attic directly beneath the clock tower and the floor beam in the center of the attic. The pictures below will illustrate these areas.
As usual the church wanted the bat removal process started as soon as possible. The problem we had was that this was a large maternal colony of bats with dozens of juvenile bats present. If we were to perform an exclusion at this time these juvenile bats would not be able to exit the structure and would all die. I explained this to the people of the church and they agreed to postpone the work until the juvenile bats were able to fly.
Bat Removal/ Exclusion Project 9-21-06
On Thursday September 21st we returned to the Church to perform the Bat removal and exclusion service. I had not been to the Church since the initial inspection on July 6th 2006. On that date I observed one of the largest maternal bat colonies that I have ever dealt with. There were dozens of juvenile bats in different stages of development. These bats were residing in the clock tower of the church and inside the decorative columns on the roof of the clock tower.
As I drove up to the church I was very anxious to see how many bats were still residing in the clock tower. I have seen many cases in which maternal colonies break up once the juveniles are fully developed. We have also had a few cold nights where temperatures got down into the upper 30's. These two factors had me thinking that I would not get to see the hundreds of bats that I found during my initial inspection of the clock tower.
Upon arrival I wasted no time in getting up into the clock tower. Immediately I saw two bats just under the roof hatch as I got to the top of the stairs. However the next 15 minutes of searching only turned up about a dozen bats and they were all buried deep in the rafters of the clock tower. My suspicions were correct. The massive colony that I found in July had split up. During the course of the day I saw approximately 20 bats in the clock tower area. Still a healthy colony but nowhere near the amount that were present in July.
Once all of our gear was brought up to the clock tower roof we got to work installing the netting around the perimeter of the tower. To evict these bats I would use a technique that I had learned in Florida. I would use large sections of netting to frame the outside of the clock tower. This would allow the bats to get very easily but they would not be able to get back in. I installed the outside net and then attached some tennis balls to keep weight on the net. The way this works is when the bats exit they are actually between the two nets. They fall out the bottom of the nets and fly away. When they attempt to get back inside the will bounce off the outer net repeatedly. If the are able to stick themselves to the siding of the clock tower and crawl up behind the outer netting they will be stopped by the inner netting. I used this technique while excluding a large colony of Mexican freetail bats in Orlando with my friend David but I had never used this method in Massachusetts. See pictures.
Bell Tower Roof
After inspecting the Bell Tower roof I determined that there were no bats present. I sealed the areas on the top of the tower as well as the sides to prevent bats from accessing this area.
I did not find a single bat residing in the columns on the roof. The cold nights that we've had in the last two weeks must have sent them into the clock tower where it is much warmer. We removed the 4 decorative columns on the roof and temporarily sealed the openings with some tar-paper. We finished up just as it was getting dark and saw a few bats drop out of the netting as we were leaving.
Bat Guano Removal and Attic Cleanup Project 10-2-06
We returned to the church on Oct 2nd 2006 to perform the attic cleanout services. On this day we would perform the following services:
- Bat guano removal service - Remove the large piles of bat guano that had accumulated in the attic and clock tower of the church. Removal of the soiled insulation under the piles of bat guano in the attic of the church.
- Remove the debris in the attic - Removal of scattered debris including woods, windows and miscellaneous junk.
- Disinfecting and Deodorizing - During this process we used commercial solvents to disinfect and deodorize the entire attic and clock tower of the church.
- Removal of Bat Exclusion Netting - The netting that had been installed around the perimeter of the clock tower was removed. This area was sealed with galvanized screening to prevent bats from entering.
We arrived at the church at day break on 10-2-06 and ended up leaving after dark. With a 5-man crew we completed all the services listed above and the exception of a small broken window (due to a piece of falling debris) everything went smoothly. The following pictures show the work that was completed. I regret that I was not able to get better pictures of the completed work. The poor lighting in the attic, amount of dust in the air and sheer size of the areas that we cleaned made it difficult to get good "after" pictures.
Removal of Bat Guano
Lousy Before and After Pictures
Bat Removal Project Completion
At the end of the day this entire project was complete. The large colony of bats that had resided in this church for many years had been humanely evicted. The clock tower had been secured to prevent these bats from returning. The attic and the interior of the clock tower had been restored to a point where it was once again safe to work up there. Contractors could now safely begin work on the building.
Visit our case-studies index page to see profiles of similar projects that we have successfully completed.
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