Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Firefighters in the Washoe Valley have lost a seven year fight with bats, forcing the emergency responders to indefinitely abandon one of the two fire stations in the Valley. Back in 2015, a colony of bats attempted to move into Fire Station 30, located at 3905 Old Highway 395 next to Bowers Mansion. The department was able to get the bats to leave at the time, but the bats returned this year and won. Bats have been flying in the living quarters of the station, and dead bats were found in the apparatus bay. The decision to relocate the firefighters and ambulance team is based on the health risk that exposure to bats and bat guano poses. Bats can transmit rabies to humans, as well as several other viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.
Bats are also protected in Nevada, which is one of the problems the firefighters face. The Nevada Department of Wildlife tells residents not to kill bats unless they are told to by a Department of Wildlife representative. According to the University of Nevada, Reno, bats are an important part of pest control in the desert. The small brown myotis bat can eat over 600 mosquitoes per night. The Pallid Bat, native to Nevada, will eat scorpions off the ground. Other species of bats are needed to pollinate the agave, or century plant, and some species of cacti, like the iconic organ pipe or saguaro cacti. Since bats are a key part of pest control and the desert ecosystem, staff will have to find a way to keep them out of Fire Station 30 without hurting them.