Georgia’s problems began with the discovery of a “federally endangered Indiana bat” in Gilmer County last year, resulting in the delay of almost 60 road projects and possibly an additional 50 projects while the Georgia Department of Transportation has biologists trying to find and capture the tiny bats — at a cost of $80,000 to $120,000 per project.
Taking exception to the idea of a bat holding up major road work, a reader with the pseudonym “no idea” wrote: “The American taxpayer has no idea of how much power the government has over his life. It touches almost everything. And by the way, if you value your sanity, don't ever under any circumstances mix it up with the great, invincible EPA. They have the power to make your life a living catastrophe! And they all sit around like leeches, ready to take our money!”
Favoring bat protection, Dagda wrote: “It is irresponsible to forsake good stewardship for economic convenience. We are a lawful people, and the Endangered Species Act is nothing more than a requirement for responsible action. Why do people continue to promote irresponsibility? Is this what it means to be a conservative? It sure wasn't when Richard Nixon was president. What changed?”
While the bat question is debated in Georgia, the discovery of another Indiana bat could delay construction of a $31 million interstate interchange in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Get this: One female Indiana bat was found about five-eighths of a mile from the site of the proposed interchange, prompting federal officials to mandate a study to determine if the endangered bat population would be harmed by the construction.
As explained by a Fish and Wildlife Service official in Rock Island, Ill., if Indiana bats are found, “You basically have to look at ways to avoid impacting that population.”
Thus, finding one bat can not only delay a project but require various actions, all costing money, to accommodate the bat.
Incidentally, the bat study in Iowa will cost an estimated $30,000, USA Today reported — a bargain price compared to the $80,000 to $120,000 estimate for studying bats in Georgia.
Our bat-ologists, or whatever they’re called, must be the best in the business.
Folks in West Des Moines are described as frustrated.
Mayor Steve Gaer said, “It’s coming up at the last hour when this bat was found five-eighths of a mile from the site, and now all of the sudden they want to bring this site into the analysis.”
If there are bats hanging in the bark of trees near the construction site, trees might be cut down in winter when the bats hibernate in other areas — or the interchange might have to be built so it won’t affect trees where bats roost.
All this could take three to five months — for one bat. Is this batty or what?