HUNTSVILLE — For years, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has faced a unique challenge: how do they remove hundreds of thousands of bats from an abandoned cotton warehouse on state property.

The Mexican free-tail bats have frequently hibernated to the aging structure across the street from the Huntsville “Walls” Unit, and any plans to remove the species have fallen flat. The issue has prohibited the state agency from tearing down the aging structure.

On Monday, members of the Walker County Commissioners Court joined the efforts.

“While we understand the bat colony is beneficial to our community in many ways, a continuing concern is the health and quality of life for residents near the cotton warehouse,” County Judge Danny Pierce said in a resolution. “The pungent smell of bat urine and feces, especially during the summer months, has resulted in numerous complaints from homeowners and businesses. There is also a concern that a large amount of bat droppings could present a health danger to correctional staff or others.”

In an effort to remove the bats, TDCJ officials built enormous bat houses less than a block away.

But they didn't work.

And that is where the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife comes in.

TDCJ spokesperson Robert Hurst said that the agency has engaged in conversations with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to find a “reasonable solution” to the problem.

“The warehouse, where bats have colonized, has fallen into disrepair,” Pierce added. “We recognized that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice cannot make significant improvements to the structure, but it is an unwelcome distraction in our beautiful downtown area."

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