Sports-loving bats back at Slidell High game

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System works to evict colony
Tuesday March 02, 2004
By Trey Iles and Marty Mulè
St. Tammany bureau

Some observers say Slidell High School's boys basketball team utilizes a bat-out-of-hell style that frustrates opponents.

But in Friday's Class 5A bidistrict playoff game between Slidell and Fortier, the bats got the best of both teams for a time.

Play was delayed for about 10 minutes late in the second quarter when three gray bats swooped down from the rafters of the Slidell High gym. School administrators, students and fans tried to catch or kill the animals. One was killed. Two escaped, then returned briefly in the fourth quarter though play continued.

The three were the remnant of a large infestation of bats that has plagued the school in recent weeks. School officials said about 1,200 were captured last week, then transported to a farm in Mississippi and released.

The school suffered a similar infestation last year and thought it had sealed all entryways.

By Monday, all the bats had been captured, school officials said. The school system is now again working to close entryways the bats used, school spokeswoman Linda Roan said.

"The (St. Tammany Parish school system) maintenance department has worked with a pest control manager to rid the facility of bats," Roan said. "Bats in our part of the country are common. And there is a certain protocol with eliminating them.

"The belief was (the bats) had been eliminated through efforts made earlier last week. But apparently there was an entryway they came in or, perhaps, the three left in the facility were undetected."

After workers removed most of the bats late last week, they disinfected the gym before Friday's game.

Roan said that, based on information from the pest control company, the school system had no reason to believe the bats were dangerous.

"But because of the potential problem with bats," Roan said, "we are taking every precaution to remove them."

Slidell coach Rick Spring said he killed about 200 bats with a tennis racket one night as many swirled over the court.

He said his team had become used to practicing with the bats overhead.

Spring joked before Friday's game that he had a plan to use the bats to his team's advantage.

"If we get in trouble, I'm going to wiggle my ears," Spring said. "That will be the signal to get them out here. My kids are used to them. The Fortier kids aren't."

Turns out Slidell didn't need the help. The Tigers defeated Fortier 91-58 to advance in the playoffs. They'll play at Central Lafourche tonight in the 5A regionals.

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Trey Iles can be reached at or (985) 645-2853. Marty Mulè can be reached at (985) 645-2847.


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