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Critters driving residents batty

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Mosquitoes aren't the only flying pests making life miserable for Fargo-Moorhead residents.

Some homeowners also are battling bats.

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Police dispatchers have taken at least half a dozen reports of bats invading homes since Monday, and at least two reports of the airborne critters hanging around businesses.

Rollie King of Frazee, Minn., known as "The Bat Man" for his skill in ridding buildings of bats without killing them, said bat activity typically picks up around this time of year as young bats begin to mature.

"My phone is ringing constantly," he said.

While young bats aren't exactly cuddly, King compares them to puppies.

"They can't behave themselves," he said. "They're going to get in trouble."

Adult bats that fly into homes may be trying to help their young, or they may be scoping out a place to hibernate for the winter, King said.

"Bats have learned to live in houses more and more and more," he said. "It's not ever going to get any better. It's just constantly going to be a problem as long as people have holes where bats can get into their home."

Calls about the winged mammals tend to come from owners of older homes, said Kari Waller, a Fargo Police Department community service officer whose duties include animal control.

Police encourage homeowners to call an exterminator for bat infestations.

Still, officers will try to help when asked, she said. In cases where it's believed the bat spent the night inside the house, they want homeowners to call animal control, she said.

Police bring captured or and dead bats to North Dakota State University to be tested for rabies.

"I had one brought there last week because it was in their house overnight, and so if they were sleeping, they (may not) know if they were bitten," Waller said.

Bats have tested negative for rabies so far this year, and only two tested positive in 2008 and 2009, she said. In one of those cases, children playing with an injured bat had to be vaccinated.

Waller said officers capture live bats with a butterfly net or trap them with a plastic container if they're asleep.

Of course, homeowners are welcome to take care of the problem themselves.

"They're not really our favorite call," she said.

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