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140-year-old Darboy church has a bat problem

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DARBOY (WITI) -- A Darboy church has got a slight problem on its hands -- or in its attic! What began as a leaky roof has turned into much more!

You might expect the roughly 140-year-old Darboy Holy Angels Catholic Church to have at least some bats in it, but when a maintenance worker went to check out a roof leak...

"Low and behold, when he opened up the attic roof, he found that he had seen some bat droppings. We didn't anticipate a bat colony in the church at all," Holy Spirit Parish Business Admin. Patty Vande Voort said.

Vande Voort says a leaky roof has now turned into a $100,000-plus project; to abate the bats, prevent them from coming back and repairing insulation damage. And the roof must be replaced.

This work will impact church services.

Starting March 4th, Darboy parishioners will hold service at the parish's sister church in Kimberly.

Animal experts say the removal of the bats isn't a very easy process, as bats in Wisconsin are protected and it's the middle of winter.

Lori Bankson is the animal curator at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay. She is working to rehabilitate a brown bat found outside of a home in early February, not hibernating.

:"Our goal is to introduce him into our bat boxes here on site," Bankson said.

Bankson says as several Wisconsin bats, like this one, are protected species - much care is needed to protect them from environmental threats. But also from humans.

"They are rabies-vector species. And just like a lot of mammals out in Wisconsin wildlife, that is a concern" Bankson said.

Vande Voort says no bats have been found in the body of the church.

It hopes to use a Green Bay diocese endowment to cover some of the costs. The rest, through fundraising.

The parish hopes the work to be finished by April first. The parish also ran its abatement plan by the county health department and the state - both of which signed off on it.