Fate of fieldhouse bat unknown, expert says bats in buildings common problem

The Pacers-Clippers game Thursday was interrupted twice when a bat flew over the court.
Fieldhouse bat
Mark Boyle's bat call

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – A bat flying near the court and all around Bankers Life Fieldhouse interrupted the Indiana Pacers game midway through the first quarter Thursday night, both frightening and entertaining the crowd.

"I don't want no parts of that," said Pacers forward Thad Young, who ducked as the bat swooped low while he was in the game. "That was the closest I've ever been to a bat and I don't want to do it again."

"The bat seems to be indefatigable as it flies around, soaring and dipping, diving and tormenting."

That was part of the call on the radio from Pacers play-by-play announcer Mark Boyle as the bat halted the action and avoided capture for about four minutes before retreating to the rafters of the Fieldhouse. Indiana Department of Natural Resources Assistant Mammologist Tim Shier is confident this was a big brown bat, which should be hibernating. But recent warm weather and the lights and crowd probably disturbed the bat from slumber.

If caught and released, Shier said the bat actually may not survive outside in the cold weather.

Kirk Neuner removes all kinds of wildlife from buildings as owner of Admiral Wildlife Services.

"People can have bats for several months or even years in their attic and not even know that they're there until all of a sudden a cold snap hits in the winter and next thing you know there's bats flying around inside their living quarters," said Neuner.

Neuner trapped three racoons in a house Friday. But he estimates they had already caused more than $8,000 damage in the attic.

"These come out of an attached garage where they were making their way up into an attic," said Neuner, pulling cages out of his truck with the raccoons inside.

The raccoons must be released on property in the same county they were captured, with the landowner's permission.

Neuner estimates more than 20 percent of his business is bat removal, over 100 jobs a year. He says bats need only about a 5/8-inch gap to get into a building. The structure must be completely sealed to prevent reentry as part of the removal process.

The San Antonio Spurs' coyote mascot caught a bat last week during an NBA game in San Antonio, Texas. That's also where the now-retired Manu Ginobilo once snagged a bat with his bare hand during a game in 2009.

"Is Ginobili available?" Pacers president Kevin Pritchard asked at practice Friday. "Because he cut down the bat pretty fast. That was crazy. I don't know about the kicks that our guys we're doing. That looked really awkward for me."

The bat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse returned Thursday night in the third quarter for a brief encore.

"I hate needles," said Pacers center Myles Turner. "I hate shots and stuff like that. So, I knew if I touched it, I would have had to get a rabies shot and all that stuff. That's the first thing that went through my mind. That's why I was trying to kick it."

If you have a bat flying around in your house, Indiana DNR suggests opening one door or window. The bat is looking for a way out. You can catch & release the bat with a net or box, although the bat will likely not survive outside in winter cold weather.

It is discouraged, but not illegal to kill big brown bats in Indiana. Shier said the bat likely poses no serious health threat to fans but should not be handled.

The bat should be hibernating, but recent warm weather and the lights and crowd probably disturbed the bat from slumber. If released, Shier said the bat actually may not survive outside in cold weather.

Pacers Sports and Entertainment has not commented on the fate of the Fieldhouse bat, which now has its own Twitter account.