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WI's Batman answering more calls this summer in La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- This year's bat season is in full swing, but it's not the bats used for baseball.

Summer is prime time for homeowners to find bats in their homes, but this year's numbers are unusually high, especially in La Crosse.

The problem isn't so much an increase in the number of bats. It's just more of where they can easily get into to call home, and it's a pretty easy fix if you know who to call.

"For over 30 years they've been calling me the ‘batman' I guess because of what I do," said Mike Bakke, a Wisconsin bat specialist.

This summer has been his busiest one yet.

"It's not out of the question, during the peak of the season to get 40 to 45 calls a day," said Bakke.

He's received a record of more than 900 bat calls so far in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota and the bulk of them come from La Crosse.

"I don't think that it's because there are more bats, but because of the hail damage and stuff like that in the past," said Bakke. "La Crosse has had a lot of roof replacements and siding replacements, and when that happens usually a lot of the sealing around those joints aren't completed. So there's just more and more openings."


He first starts with an inspection around the house looking in nooks and crannies.

Then it's up to the roof and sure enough, he finds the entrance to the bat cave.

"There are a few bat droppings on the roof, which is a dead giveaway," said Bakke.

Normally the solution is to install an exclusion, or a one-way door where bats can't get back in once they've left, but this house already has a working exclusions, so with a little caulk and some elbow grease, it's another bat-proof house for the batman.

The bats found in Wisconsin are actually beneficial to the environment because they eat insects.

It's important to note bats do carry rabies, a deadly virus. However, officials said bats transmitting rabies to humans is rare.

Ninety-percent of the rabies in the U.S. is transmitted by dogs to humans.

Doctors at Mayo Clinic Health System said if someone has been bitten by a bat, dog or any animal carrying rabies, they should get medical treatment as soon as possible.

"The vaccinations and the immunoglobulin is to prevent the individual from catching the disease itself," said Emannuel Lonsdorfer, a medical doctor at Mayo Clinic Health System. "Once you do have the disease, there's no cure. There's no FDA antiviral or antibiotic for it, so everything is about awareness and prevention of the disease. Once you have the disease, it's actually too late most of the time.

Lonsdorfer said on average, Mayo Clinic Health System treats about four people with bat bites a year.

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