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200,000 bats displaced as structure falls

Aug. 18, 2009 at 10:11 AM

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Aug. 18 (UPI) -- As many as 100 bats died and 200,000 were left homeless when a structure built to lure them away from University of Florida buildings collapsed, officials say.

The fall of the 18-year-old plywood structure Sunday came as students are preparing to return to campus for the new school year, university officials told The Palm Beach Post.

"We're just telling people to be vigilant but that there is no cause for panic or mass hysteria," Ken Glover, an expert in urban pest management and coordinator of the university's environmental health and safety division told the newspaper. "My guess is the colony will fragment and go off in groups of dozens or hundreds."

Glover told the Post it was probably the weight of the bats that caused their house to collapse. The structure, built on stilts and containing waffle-like roosting areas, was constructed in 1991 to lure bats away from nearby Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and other campus buildings.

The Post said bats are attracted to the campus by plentiful insects around Gainesville's Lake Mary.

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