Royalton Had Bats in Its Belfry
Once-prolific residence of brown bats was completely empty
Sandy Conrad, who serves as the property manager for the historic Royalton Academy Building on Route 14 in Royalton was surprised Tuesday morning to find that there were no bats in the belfry.
“Several months ago, the senior center reported a problem with mice, and the selectboard asked me to contact J.P. Pest Services in Lebanon, N.H,” she said.
They discovered signs that chipmunks and squirrels had found a way into the building, but that assessment also yielded evidence of a large colony of bats in the building’s belfry.
Unfortunately, a closer inspection Tuesday morning by Scott Dillon, who works for JP Pest Service’s wildlife division, found not a single bat in sight.
“I’m disappointed,” Dillon said. “There’s definitely signs that there once was a colony here, but they’re not here anymore.”
Conrad had spoken with officials at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, who asked the town to wait until mid-August for renovations to the space, for fear of disturbing pregnant females.
Dillon urged that the town still wait until the end of summer to seal the space. There may be, he said, a handful of bats hidden in tight spaces in the building’s rafters.
The small brown bat has faced near eradication over the past year, due to the spreading of a fungus through white-nose syndrome.
Since small brown bats hibernate together in caves during the winter, the fungus can spread easily throughout the colony, causing the population of the small insect-eating mammals to plummet.
Built in the 1800s to be a school, the Royalton Academy Building was taken over in 1991 by the Royalton Civic Club, which later sold it to the town for $1. The Civic Club still runs a weekly bingo hall there on Thursday evenings, starting at 6:30 p.m.