A wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently said the famous bat population, which once flourished in Houston, aiding to control the mosquito population, is reportedly down in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Diana Foss told the Houston Chronicle the bat population under the Waugh Drive bridge at Allen Parkway near downtown Houston is at about half the level prior to the hurricane.
“Pre-Harvey, we had at least 300,000 bats in the bridge,” Foss said in an interview. “But watching the emergence at Waugh right now is kind of depressingly lower than that. What I’m seeing is about half the bats are emerging.”
The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey reportedly left the Waugh Drive bridge underwater.
Experts say they estimate thousands of bats died in the storm, while others flew from the area.
Some Houston residents attempted to rescue as many of the animals as they could, but their efforts fell short for some of the often environmentally-helpful species.
“There are some dead bats up in the bridge. We can see them, their little bodies, and it’s incredibly sad,” Foss said further. “But there are, thankfully, still living bats up in the bridge. And they’re using crevices that don’t have the dead bats in them.”
Cullen Geiselman, a biologist who, as her C.V. shows, earned her doctorate studying bats, saying the true extent of damage and the fate of Houston’s bat population may not be known until this coming summer, since the Mexican free-tailed bats typically fly south for the winter and return to Houston in the summer to give birth to their pups.
RELATED: Houstonians Rescue Bats After Harvey
“They’re waiting to do the counts at a time when they’ve done the same count in pervious years,” Geiselman said in an interview. “That will show us how much of the difference we see now is because of timing in the year.”
She also said, since female bats typically only give birth to one pup per year, “it will be a slow process to try and rebuild that population.”
“I hate that I can’t tell people exactly what’s going to happen with the colony, or how many perished,” Geiselman said. “But I hope we’ll have a sense of that very soon.”
Hang in there, buddies. Houston needs you!