When Ignorance and Fear Leads to Stupidity and Cruelty

MA-Caver

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Some TSU students may need rabies shots
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/5143468.html

By ROSANNA RUIZ
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Rabies vaccinations could be in order for several Texas Southern University students who recently came in contact with bats at their dorm, state and health officials said Monday.

More than 200 students from the Lanier Hall East were displaced and had to move into hotels over the weekend because of the number of bats discovered at the on-campus men's dorm, said Terrence Jackson, a university spokesman.

Students gathered Monday evening at the student center to learn about the potential dangers posed by exposure to rabid bats. The students were asked to speak individually with the health officials to determine whether they should be vaccinated.

It remained unclear late Monday how many students, if any, would have to receive vaccinations.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system. The deadly disease is transferred to people who are bitten by rabid animals. It is also possible for people to get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets into their eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.

One student, Jason Smith, 19, said he killed dozens of bats with a tennis racket at the dorm but was not bitten. "Nobody got bit not to my knowledge," Smith said.

But videos on the Internet showing at least two TSU students killing bats with a broom and tennis racket while others watched have health officials concerned.
Here is the said video of the event. Caution to animal lovers and those affected by violence against defenseless animals.
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Now I don't know about you all but I felt this bore enough weight for discussion. The fact that these people (like many others) are so ignorant about their world that when confronted by something like these bats (most likely mexican free-tail bats) they can think of no other response than to try and kill as many as they can because they think they're going to be attacked.
While it's a paradox that very little is known about bats, enough is known about them to say that they're relatively harmless to humans and even beneficial.
I lament this because I am a caver (as well as a MA-ist) and have an affinity for these wonderful animals. I've seen enough of them very very closely and had the opportunity to help a lady nurse a couple back to health. I've studied them (as a layman) enough to know that without them we would have a very difficult time staying outdoors during the night. Think trillions of mosquitoes and other biting flying insects. A single bat can eat 2/3rds of it's weight in insects a night, bats commonly weigh roughly up to an ounce (particularly insectivores... their larger relatives or Fruit Bats can go upwards to a pound or two). Figure the approximate weight in grams of a single mosquito and do the math where X is the weight of the mosquito and 1oz the weight of the bat and 2/3rds being the amount of mosquitoes by volume the bat eats in a single night... then take THAT number and multiply that by an average (large) colony of bats, which can number anywhere between 10,000 to 2 million and well... you get the picture. That's a lot of bugs in one night... every-night.

These guys, it's funny to watch them because they're big burly guys and they're terrified of these little flittermice and they're swinging wildly at them trying to hit them... you can see they're missing more than they're hitting. Sadly however they got lucky a few times.
These bats probably got trapped while temporarily roosting during the day and are simply trying to find a way OUT!
It's ignorance that these guys think they're being attacked, it's stupid to try and kill these creatures that are much smaller than they are and are obviously (if they took the time to observe) not attacking them. It's cruel to bash at them with brooms, tennis racquet's and a wet-floor sign... and in one case a baseball bat.
Now ignorance and fear has folks crying RABIES! When it's known by those who know bats (like moi) that less than 0.01% of bats carry rabies and that generally rabid bats are unable to fly very well or for prolonged periods. A person would most likely be bitten by a rabid bat simply by picking it up than having the animal fly like some sinister kamikaze to a human being.
I'm of course outraged at the video and the subsequent conclusion that the University has come to.
When are people going to learn? Example:
Some of those students may have been exposed even though they were not bitten, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the city of Houston's health department.

"When we saw the video, we knew we had a problem," Barton said.

She added that some of the students may have been "splattered" by saliva.
From a health department official. What has she studied to become a HDO? Biology? Microbiology? Zoology? Did she even think to consult bat experts (try batcon.org) to find out a little more? Or was it just general assumption like the students had that bats are harbringers of rabies and other diseases? That they're pests and nuisances?

I'm afraid I'm not seeing the overall picture here and would like to see some discussion from both sides of the fence. However I probably would be strongly biased towards the bats' favor as I know them fairly well and in my years of interacting with them... never had cause to fear them.
 

FieldDiscipline

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I'm no expert, but I'm inclined to agree with you.

Didnt watch the video though.

Nothing spreads like hysteria and panic (not even rabies)!
 

tshadowchaser

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aas a chiled I remember a few bats getting into the place we lived in. My parents where both afraid of the batss and afraid of being bitten, so my father would kill the bats with whatever was at hand. Because of them being afraid and mybeing a samll child at the same time I became afraid of bats and grew up with the same fears.
Now that I am a little older and have more knowledge I still my not like the little things but Ido not kill them just because i see them
 

Sukerkin

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I get quite aggrieved when I see something like that happening. I shall restrain my comments because of said anger.

If you have a creature that is a danger to you, then, yes, there is a certain amount of justification for the permanent removal of that creature. If you need someting to eat, then I will not castigate you for killing a creature for that purpose. But to kill a creature that is actually beneficial to you because you are too ignorant to overcome a superstitious fear (both the bats and the disease) ...

Like Caver I've come across several bats in my excursions underground - other than their giving me disgusted glares for bringing bright lights into their home they've otherwise been a delight to see. I've had one stuck in the house at one time and it was the devils own job to get it out without hurting it - as it was I probably scarred the poor little bugger half to death when I caught it in a pillow case and let him go outside.

The way the students behaved in the report above is one of those events that make me a little more ashamed to be human :(.
 

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While it's a paradox that very little is known about bats, enough is known about them to say that they're relatively harmless to humans and even beneficial.

Where I am right now, I often see bats in the early evening as I walk around. Usually, as I see the bats, I am being attacked by mosquitos- those critters so famed for spreading disease like malaria.

These folks are supposed to be better educated than most. I can understand a little fear about rabies, but calling animal control seems to be the logical choice instead of.... this blatent stupidity.
 

Tez3

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I haven't heard them being called flittermice for ages, it's a lovely word! I work nights and am often outside, it's a rural area so we have loads of wildlife all of which is a delight. Despite or because of the fact it's an Army training area the wildlife is protected, we have badger setts undisturbed by humans, the tanks and shooting keep them away! Bats are definitely left undisturbed, I believe certain species of them are protected by law here.
The problem about cruelty to animals is that it desensitises the people doing it to suffering and respect for life. Here it's thoughtless cruelty but deliberate cruelty often escalates into human abuse.

I think the students here should be made to see what they did was wrong.
 

Ray

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Heck, I live in a 100-year old house and get an occasional bat. It's nearly impossible to "shew" them out; and I don't have a net to capture them in. So, sorry, I use the tennis racket or broom or whatever is handy.
 

Bigshadow

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It saddens me to see the video. :( I agree with most of what Sukerkin said, except the part about being ashamed to be human.
 

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meh. I set traps for the mice in my garage; bats aren't special just because they have wings. IMO, they should have called maintenance and had them deal with the problem, but I'm not certain that they would have handled the matter differently. How do you remove bats humanely from a building? Smoke 'em out? Sound waves? And would the school maintenance staff know/care about doing it humanely?
 
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MA-Caver

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meh. I set traps for the mice in my garage; bats aren't special just because they have wings. IMO, they should have called maintenance and had them deal with the problem, but I'm not certain that they would have handled the matter differently. How do you remove bats humanely from a building? Smoke 'em out? Sound waves? And would the school maintenance staff know/care about doing it humanely?
Probably not. Spraying a toxic substance/gas into where-ever they're roosting has been the general method of "getting rid of bats". Chemical warfare that we've inflicted upon common household pests for decades. Problem is... bats are on the same side as humans when it comes to insects. Just a lot of people don't know that.

I'll disagree with you on one thing Cory, bats are indeed special because they have wings. They are the worlds only true flying mammal. And studies are finding them more closely linked to humans than rodents. They're given misnomers as flying mice or in my case (which is more of an affectionate terminology) flittermouse because of the resemblance than anything else.
Ultra-high frequency sound-waves is a method... provided that there's an escape route. Placing screens over (bat) entry ways helps keep them out, i.e. attic vents. Thing is you gotta place them during the night when they fly out to hunt their prey... those pesky mosquitoes and annoying moths. (again go to batcon.org to learn more).

The behavior of the students and the resulant reaction of the school's administration and health department is a reflection of the general overall knowledge of our world and the things in it. Age old stigmas and (aforementioned) superstitious fears (help) lead to extinction of beneficial species. Fear is a side-effect of ignorance. The amount of fear (or the ability to control it) depends upon the person's intelligence.
Judging from the video these kids are sorely lacking. They may think they're brave going up against these dangerous, blood-sucking, disease spreading, creepy, people biting, hair tangling, flying vermin. They probably bragged about it the next day.
But like Sukerkin and BigShadow I'm ashamed to be among the same species as those students. The general reaction in the caving community is outrage and terrible sadness. I'm glad to see the same in the MA community. :asian: It speaks volumes of the level of intelligence of the people I associate with. :asian:
 

DavidCC

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I think the school is ordering the rabies shots as a punishment for these guys' behavior.
 

Bigshadow

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meh. I set traps for the mice in my garage; bats aren't special just because they have wings.

Surely, you aren't suggesting that what those kids did and you setting traps are on the same level? They were making a game of killing the bats. To me that completely separates the two scenarios.
 

CoryKS

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Surely, you aren't suggesting that what those kids did and you setting traps are on the same level? They were making a game of killing the bats. To me that completely separates the two scenarios.

I guess I wasn't really focusing on the level of enjoyment that they derived from it. The situation was that there were quite a few bats which had entered a dorm. The requirement was that those bats needed to be removed from the dorm. Whether that could, or would, be done without killing them was a question that I asked above, and from MACaver's response it seems unlikely since the standard method is to bomb them with toxins.
 

Sukerkin

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My thought is I wonder what the general reaction would be if the victims had been some form of creature with a 'better' public profile?

Replace 'bats' with 'kittens', for example. Extreme I know but you get my point I hope? The actions reported above are not what I consider to be humane, especially given their lack of necessity. Then again, I am the chap who tears up if we have to resort to lethal traps to get rid of mice :eek:.

Bats can quite easily be given an eviction notice - all you need are framed nets and a way out for them. I'm as horrified to hear that toxic bombs are considered an acceptable method by local authorities. Not even counting the brutality of that method on the animals, I'm startled that it's considered safe in a public building.
 

exile

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For farmers, and people living in tropical locales where many biting instects are vectors for horrific diseases, bats are worth their weight in gold: each night, a good-sized swarm eats tens of thousands of economically damaging, and frequently dangerous, pests. And bats rival bees, in many ecosystems, as pollinators: there are regions whose plant life crucially depends on bats to carry out this essential function. On the whole, bats play a very positive role in ecological systems. They certainly didn't deserve this kind of...—well, the thread title says it best.
 

Flying Crane

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I'm working on creating a sterling silver fruit bat pendant/necklace. He's hanging upside down with his wings wrapped around his body, in a very "dracula" -ish pose.

They are pretty fascinating creatures, I just thought I'd try and capture one in my artistic endeavors.

I know, off topic, but thought I'd toss that out there...
 

thardey

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For farmers, and people living in tropical locales where many biting instects are vectors for horrific diseases, bats are worth their weight in gold: each night, a good-sized swarm eats tens of thousands of economically damaging, and frequently dangerous, pests. And bats rival bees, in many ecosystems, as pollinators: there are regions whose plant life crucially depends on bats to carry out this essential function. On the whole, bats play a very positive role in ecological systems. They certainly didn't deserve this kind of...well, the thread title says it best.


They pollinate? Kewl.

I grew up in the country, and I always enjoyed it when the bats would swoop down and get a drink out of our pool. I really enjoyed it when one of my city-friends were there with me, and they would almost panic when I told them that the "nocturnal bird" was really a bat. We had a couple get into our house, but we shooed them out using tennis rackets with the cover still on. Almost had one land on me, which would have made things easier, but he kept going.

I think people assume that most bats are vampire bats, not the fruit bats we have around here.
 

exile

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They pollinate? Kewl.

I agree completely! There's some nice info on bat pollination here and similar sites on the internet. My first inkling of this little-known fact about bats came from an article in the magazine put out by Bat Conservation International, to which my wife belonged at the time. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Like bees, `microbat' species have a short, fuzzy coat absolutely perfect for accumulating pollen granules... someone, somewhere along the line was bound to take advantage of that to get its pollen spread around.

I grew up in the country, and I always enjoyed it when the bats would swoop down and get a drink out of our pool. I really enjoyed it when one of my city-friends were there with me, and they would almost panic when I told them that the "nocturnal bird" was really a bat. We had a couple get into our house, but we shooed them out using tennis rackets with the cover still on. Almost had one land on me, which would have made things easier, but he kept going.

I think people assume that most bats are vampire bats, not the fruit bats we have around here.

Bats often have a ferocious appearance, which gives people serious misimpressions about their nature (typically shy and nonaggressive, and quite happy to stay out of your way). But vampire bats are only three species among a huge number of bat species. And while vampire bats do spread rabies, they are unknown outside the (sub)tropical Western Hemisphere. Most people don't think of dogs in general based on what they read about pit bulls, yet their perspective on bats often seems to reflect this idea that these animals are typically blood-feeders. Not good, not good at all.
 

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That which we do not understand we fear. That which we fear we destroy. There is no sense in what the college students did. I remember when I was a kid my dad worked for Orkin for awhile. He had to work on a house that had a colony of bats in the attack. A couple feet of guano, the smell was horrible, homeowner afraid of bedbugs and other pests being carried by them. Rather than try to kill the bats they called dad's company to take care of the problem. They covere up every conceivable entrance and egress for the bats around the house (you'd be amazed at how small a space they can crawl through) except one. When the bats flew out for the night they covered the last one up, cleared out the last few that were in the attic. After a day or two of trying to get in and failing the bats moved on to another roost.
 
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