Editorial Notebook

RPI bats their eyes at another animal infestation

Vice President of Administration Ernie Katzwinkel gave a comment about the bat sighting in Russell Sage Lab. A note from the pest control company that was contacted is given as well. Please read the editor's note at the bottom of the article for details.

Picture this: you’re in your 8 am class critiquing other students’ projects when someone yells “there’s a bat in the trash can!” Out of curiosity, the entire class gathers around the trash can and sees a little bat rummaging through the empty food containers. What do you even do in this situation?

This has been the third sighting of bats in Sage Laboratory alone. After the first sighting on February 2 in Sage Laboratory, students voiced their concern, but didn’t think it would happen again. However, later in the day, there was a second sighting in the same building. Less than a week later on February 8, there was a third sighting in Walker Laboratory. The most recent sighting was on February 14. This totals four sightings in academic buildings within the past month. It has been made clear that this will be a recurring issue until the school recognizes it.

To my knowledge, the most recent sighting took place during my Introduction to Graphic Design class. We all gathered around the trash can watching in shock before calling over a maintenance worker. He walked over, took one look, and treated it almost like any other trash bag. He sealed the bag with the bat still inside and added it to his growing pile of trash bags before leaving. There are multiple issues with this.

First of all, maintenance workers should not be expected to know how to handle this situation properly and safely. Instead, there should be designated pest control workers for situations like this. While it may be expensive, it seems necessary after the excessive rodent infestation throughout many academic and dorm buildings. Pest control workers could handle the infestation of both the bats and the rodents throughout the buildings, solving two problems at once. Along with this, students’ well beings are being put at risk because of the lack of awareness on the issue from the school. In my opinion, the school should have professional pest control workers inspect and clear the buildings before allowing more classes to take place there. Professors could hold classes online or be relocated temporarily to allow for safer class environments. As students, we should not have to feel scared of bats while going to class.

Editor's note:

Vice President of Administration Ernie Katzwinkel, regarding the bat sighting at Russell Sage Lab, said, "We consulted a professional pest control company about the sighting at Sage Lab and they didn't find any bat roosts or indication of other bats. If anyone sees a bat in a building contact FIXX at 518-276-2000 and let the professionals respond for evaluation and treatment as appropriate. If FIXX is closed, call Public Safety at 518-276-6611." Katzwinkel also relayed some information from the pest control company:

A bat found in a structure can happen from time to time. Small brown bats and large brown bats that may be hibernating may begin to move from their hibernation areas as the we start to get several days above 45 degrees.

Large brown bats are more common to enter a structure during the winter as they tend to move around a bit, to adjust to changing temperatures if their spot is suddenly too warm or cold. It is at this time that they can find their way to the interior of the structure.

During bat hibernation, bats are defenseless and are looking for shelters where they have a warm area to rest. Hibernation period usually is somewhere between September to March. As the weather starts to get warmer, the bats will start to move from their hibernation sites. What can be done when a bat enters a structure: An inspection can be performed to see where the bat may have entered from. Gaps found on the interior can be sealed, attic may be inspected for signs of bat activity, the exterior can be inspected for signs of bat activity and or possible entry points.

What to do if a bat enters a structure: Do not try to catch the bat yourself. Don’t panic, try to remain calm. Contain the bat into one room. Open the windows in the room to create a draft to allow the bat to leave on its own. Never grab a bat with your bare hands or with the use of a glove.