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Bat brouhaha in New Tampa: 10 News helps tenant, but state says 'not so fast' | News

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Bat brouhaha in New Tampa: 10 News helps tenant, but state says 'not so fast'

New Tampa, FL -- In all his years with Tampa Code Enforcement, Manager Sal Ruggerio says he's never run into this kind of problem: Bats.

And not just bats occupying the attic of a New Tampa home, because that has been known to happen on rare occasion. That's normally remedied pretty quickly.

What's different this time, is that the flying mammals are occupying the home on Long Ridge Road at a time of year that leaves the city, the landlord, and the tenant virtually powerless to do anything about it.

"Who knows how infested it is?" asked Christine Rojas, who started moving into the home just two days ago.

Rojas brought the bat issue to the attention of 10 News on Monday. She was frustrated when her landlord said as far as removing the bats, "It'd be faster for me to do it, than for them to do it," she says.

That's when 10 News stepped in. Between our reports and bringing it to the attention city code enforcers, Christine gratefully says the property owner is now taking action.

The new problem may be that they can't do much for months. Why?

"The state law basically blocks us from this point on," said Ruggerio.

The bats, it turns out, are protected by state law. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says between April 15th and August 15th every year, the bats raise their young. If the adult bats were removed - or excluded - from the home now, they say the babies would likely die inside. So legally, they have to be left alone.

That, says Christine, is just batty. She's already she's had to turn away utilities and cable installers who, along with everybody else, are now prohibited from entering the attic.

And besides all that, laughed Christine, "It's just gross!"

Despite the Rojas family's health concerns, including a child with respiratory issues, code enforcement officials say the bats likely do not pose a threat as long as the animals stay confined to the attic.

The owner of the property, American Homes 4 Rent, has been cited and ordered to fix the problem. They've reached out to an exterminator service and are planning to have the bats removed.

But not until August 16, warn state officials.

"I think they're pretty receptive to doing the right thing," said Ruggerio.

To learn more about bats and the rule surrounding them, click here


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