The Williams City Council, with a little help from the Colusa County Board of Supervisors, is taking care of a serious bat problem at the Sacramento Valley Museum.
The city, which owns the 109-year-old two-story structure, has agreed to pay the majority of a $52,700 project to patch up access points and lock the bats out of the historic school house dome so the critters can’t return to what they think is their permanent residence.
The Board of Supervisors has allowed the museum to use the funding they previously gifted for an ADA project.
Museum Director Julie Stone said not only have the little mouse-eared microbats in the tower multiplied in recent years, they have now made their way into the interior of the building where historical exhibits are housed.
“In the first part of February, we started noticing dead bats out on the grounds of the museum,” said Stone, who contracted with Western Bats Specialists, a company that employs no-harm tactics that encourage bats to relocate.
Stone said Western Bat Specialists inspected the museum and discovered that a very large bat colony is accessing the insulated cavities of the museum by the way of the floor flashings, missing exterior trim, warped fascia boards, and other crevices, and are now roosting in the attic, leaving behind guano and urine in the dome and upper areas of the museum.
“It is a health hazard,” she said. “It causes rashes and causes respiratory problems.”
Stone said Western Bat Specialists would repair all damaged or missing trim, fascia, boards, and fasteners, and repair and seal all the gaps, voids, and crevices where bats can enter.
The majority of the bats would be removed from the building at onset of the project to clean, repair, and reinsulate the building before it is sealed, although devices will be installed so that any remaining bats can fly out at night and not reenter.
Bats are highly territorial and will attempt to return to their roosting spot each season, Stone said, making it necessary for the city to monitor the facility for decay and disrepair in order to keep bats from returning in the future.
The bat project will be done sometime before the breeding season in May, after which California law protects them from being removed from their roosts, officials said.
The Board of Supervisors, on April 7, reauthorized $19,500 initially allocated for ADA improvements to be spent on bat removal, as long as the funds are expended before June 30. ■