Bats make courthouse annex their winter home

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – A trip to the Angelina County Courthouse Annex building may end up more like a horror movie. Thanks to the bats that have made the building their winter home for years.

There may be more to fear than an empty wallet when you visit the tax assessor office.

"Every time we see one, the girls scream and run," said Angelina County Tax Assessor, Thelma "Midget" Sherman.

Tax office employers are not the only ones getting an up close and personal experience with the flying creatures.

"One day last week we had one that we we're trying to catch and it was flying around the office and, yes, we had several people who saw that," described Sherman.

The best chance of a run-in with the bats seems to come in the morning.

"Because they're supposed to not move in the daytime. They don't like lights, so therefore, when you turn the lights on I guess it spooks them," said Sherman.

The tax office was warned about their furry office-mates back in the early 90s.

"When we first moved in the building, we were told by a previous commissioner that there were bats in the building. We hadn't seen them or anything at the time, but they visit us every year, but its usually in the cold weather," explained Sherman.

The courthouse annex seems to be the popular place to stay this winter. The tax office staff have experienced more activity this season than past years.

The bats, however, are not welcome.

"It is a problem because we don't need them in a public building to begin with."

Their presence doesn't make tax workers' jobs any easier.

"We have a drop box for tax payments... apparently there was one between the wall and the box and all you could see was its ears and parts of its body," described Sherman.

It's not the traditional reason people don't pay taxes... but rabies is also an issue.

"If they are - if they could have rabies, they need to be tested," said Sherman.

Right now they report bat sightings to maintenance - which uses nets and boxes to get them outside.

"Right now we need to get them out of the place so we can continue working and the public can continue coming in," said Sherman.

The building's maintenance department installed a high-pitch frequency sound system that is supposed to keep birds and bats away. The tax assessor office hopes it works.

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