Hundreds of bats force shutdown of Florida fire station

A Florida fire-rescue crew has been evicted from its station by an invasion of bats.

The Tampa Bay Times ( reports anywhere from 500 to 1,000 bats found their way into the station in Pasco County, north of Tampa. The nocturnal winged critters have been found in several parts of the building and created an unsanitary and unsafe working environment. Officials are working with a trapper to remove them.

The newspaper reports emergency workers first spotted them at dusk five years ago. Then the officials tried offering them bat boxes, which have holes in the bottom and rods that run horizontally inside for hanging. But the colony moved into the station anyway.

It's illegal to completely remove them until after August when the baby bats mature. Until then, officials will seal off entrances to the living quarters.

"They've found them in the sleeping quarters, they found them in the weight room, they found them in the bathrooms and it's gotten to the point that it's become a risk," said Pasco Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Administration Andrew Fossa.

Wildlife officials will then continue to monitor the situation and determine the best way to remove the colony.

Fossa said there will be no lapse in coverage while the station is closed.