Hundreds of bats found infesting high school as classes begin, Utah officials say

Teachers and students returning to their Salt Lake City high school found hundreds of bats infesting the campus, Utah officials told news outlets.

“It was just not what we were expecting to be happening on the first week of school,” student Lizzy Gardner told KSTU.

Wildlife officials believe the migratory Brazilian free-tailed bats moved into Highland High School over the summer break, KUTV and KSL reported.

“As teachers were coming back into the building, one of the teachers reported a rattling in the air conditioning,” Salt Lake City School District spokesperson Yándary Chatwin told KSTU. “They looked inside the unit and there was a nest inside that HVAC unit.”

Authorities found about 70 bats on the school’s third floor and another 150 on the roof and outside, KSTU reported. The school probably seemed like home, officials said.

“We kind of have these larger buildings that might imitate some of their natural habitat, where it’s cliffs or it’s high trees where they’re trying to get into a higher place,” Shawn Pladas of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources told KSL.

The agency is now working to remove and relocate the bats.

No students have come into direct contact with bats, and two employees who worked in the classroom where bats were found are being monitored, school officials told KUTV.

“We don’t take any chances with rabies, so even the most minor contact like a bat brushing against you qualifies as contact,” Nicholas Rupp with the Salt Lake County Health Department told KSL.

Pladas told KUTV that teachers and students are not at risk as long as they did not have contact with the bats.

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