As depressing as it is to see the scope of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, it’s heartening to see it bringing out the best in people, with neighbors helping neighbors and folks coming in from all over the country offering assistance in the form of boats, supplies, and/or much-needed expertise. While human survivors are obviously the first to get resources, there are also brave volunteers helping rescue and reunite pets displaced from their families, as domestic animals are exceptionally ill-equipped to deal with this unprecedented situation.
But what about wild animals? It’s beautiful to know there are good people looking out for all of Harvey’s survivors. Apparently, Houston is home to a colony of bats who gather in swarms around sunset. These events are actually tourist attractions, with organized Bat Walks during the seasons this behavior is most common. When the colony’s main roost under a bridge was being flooded by rushing torrents, Biology doctoral student Jacob Calle sprang into action.
Calle spent his Sunday rescuing a colony of free-tailed bats that live under the Waugh Bridge near downtown Houston. “Animals are always going to have the last voice in these types of situations whenever there are human lives at cost, so at least I could do what I can on my own,” Calle said.
When Calle saw the extent of the flooding on Sunday, he quickly set out to the bridge to see what had happened to the bats. Waugh Bridge stretches over Buffalo Bayou, which had flooded over its banks and approached the underside of the bridge. Some of the bats had fallen into the water, while others were clinging for their lives. Many of them had already been blown away onto other buildings.
“As the water was rising they were trapped underneath the bridge,” Calle said. “Whenever it was time to fly at night they didn’t realize how high the water was and they just splashed into the water.”
Calle and as many as 30 brave volunteers risked dangers (including rabies) to rescue as many as 1,000 bats who had been displaced. The ones who didn’t immediately recover we’re given overnight shelter to recover. Considering bats have such a negative, macabre reputation, it’s awesome seeing people who realize all life is precious.
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