Summit speakers had to share the stage in Moody Coliseum this year. The infamous Moody bats swooped in during several lectures, startling visitors and giving students in search of challenging lessons and extra Chapel credits more than they bargained for.
Mark Lewis, assistant dean of Spiritual Life and Chapel programs, said Chapel had to be moved to Cullen Auditorium in recent years, because nearly 700 bats were swarming in Moody. Physical Resources filled cracks the bats could use as entrance points, but the problem did not end there.
“Physical Resources trapped 70 bats and spent the remainder of the semester picking up dead bats,” he said.
The bats are Mexican Free-tailed bats; dark brown, 9-centimeter, pest-controlling creatures best known for their urban colony of 1.5 million under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.
Dr. Tom Lee, professor of biology, said the bats have chosen to reside in Moody because it is a dry location with a relatively stable temperature. But, he said, they will not stay in Moody year-round.
“They are migratory,” he said. “When the insect populations plummet, they’ll go back south and stay in Mexico for the winter.”
Lewis said during the last infestation, Lee was able to rehabilitate some bats and eventually set them free. Lee said the best way to solve the problem is to block ventilation points after the bats migrate; he cautioned against killing them, because they prey on insects.
However, students who attended Summit lectures said regardless of the bats’ environmental role, they were an annoyance and have been for years.
Perry Harrison, second-year English graduate student from Gilmer, attended Donald Miller’s lecture Wednesday afternoon. He said the bats successfully distracted his entire freshman English 111 class from the message
“They remember the bats,” Harrison said. “I couldn’t tell you 20 words Donald Miller said.”
Harrison said this is a recurring problem.
“I have seen them every year for six years,” Harrison said. “We should do what it takes to rid ourselves of the bat menace.”
Lewis reported the bat problem to Physical Resources, and they were removed immediately – until the next migration.