After their winter trip south, Mexican free-tailed bats are returning to the Bracken Bat Cave in Central Texas in larger numbers, which is good news for South Texas agriculture.
Millions of Mexican free-tailed bats make their summer home at the Bracken Cave just north of San Antonio, and farmers in South Texas rely on them to swarm across their farmland and eat the insects that can destroy crops.
Bat experts have determined a bat colony has established itself inside the walls of a 45-year-old dorm building at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
More than 200 Lackland recruits are on a rabies vaccine regimen after several bats were discovered in their dorm a couple of weeks ago. But the building is huge, and although the dorms were secured and entrances sealed off, it took experts a longer time to find the bat colony that was discovered over the weekend.
A tentative buyer has declined to purchase the property -- known as Crescent Hills -- adjacent to the Bracken Bat Cave and now a coalition of potential buyers is hoping to acquire the land to preserve it.
The coalition is a loosely-knit group of people and organizations who want to see the land surrounding the bat cave permanently preserved instead of being open for development of houses and commercial activity.
One of the interested parties is San Antonio District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg.
The bats that fly out from under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin are a popular visitor attraction, but San Antonio now has its own bat population large enough to show off along the San Antonio Riverwalk.
The Paseo del Rio Association, the San Antonio River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Bat Conservation International are hosting Bat Loco, an informative series of bat walks, now through mid-August to raise awareness of the importance of bats in our ecosystem.
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality can issue a variance to its rule that SAWS provide water to the Crescent Hills Subdivision, which is located near the Bracken Bat Cave.
SAWS has said it has no choice but to provide the sewer and water mains because of its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, but GEAA Executive Director Annalisa Peace said the group's attorneys have research the issue and say the TCEQ can change the certificate at the request of SAWS.
The Bracken Bat Cave, just north of San Antonio, is as rural as it gets. You have to drive down a long, 2-mile rocky road to reach it. There's nothing nearby — no lights, no running water. The only thing you hear are the katydids.
The cave houses a massive bat colony, as it has for an estimated 10,000 years. Bat Conservation International, the group that oversees the Bracken Cave Reserve, wants it to stay secluded, but the area's rural nature could change if a local developer's plan moves forward.