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Are Bats the Alternative to Pesticides in Orange County?

Bats can get rid of mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is sounding the alarm about a proposal to use bats as mosquito control. Jacobs cited the risk of contracting rabies from the flying mammals for her support of more traditional mosquito prevention.

But Brevard Zoo’s Director Keith Winsten says bats are already commonplace throughout the country, whether through manmade or natural habitats.

“I’ll point to the University of Florida which has thousands and thousands of bats. Or the city of Austin where they have thousands of bats and people watch for them to come out. If this was a major issue people wouldn’t be waiting for them to do this.”

County Commissioner Emily Bonilla says she’ll move ahead with a proposal to erect more bat houses in East Orange County.

The Centers for Disease Control says only 23 people in the United States have contracted rabies over the past decade, and eight of these cases were contacted during travel abroad.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.