Bat invades WIS studios during the news - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Bat invades WIS studios during the news

An "Evening Bat" captures in the WIS studios An "Evening Bat" captures in the WIS studios
Carolina Wildlife Care Exec. Director Joanna Weitzel captures the bat Carolina Wildlife Care Exec. Director Joanna Weitzel captures the bat
Stewart and Von joke about the bat on the air Stewart and Von joke about the bat on the air

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Once in a while we invite guests into the studio to get a behind the scenes look at how our newscasts are put together, however, Friday morning an unwanted visitor caused a little concern during our morning newscast.

It all started during the 6:00 a.m. half hour of WIS Sunrise. During the first commercial break, a WIS graphics artist entered the studio to deliver some information to the crew and a small bat that somehow got into the studio got startled and started flying around.

Sunrise anchor Stewart Moore didn't say anything about the bat on the air until the end of the first half hour.

At the beginning of the 6:30 a.m. half hour, Stewart let the 'bat' out of the bag, and remarked live on the air to Meteorologist Von Gaskin, "Von, we have a little surprise to tell folks about," Stewart said. "I want to go ahead and prep them now, there's a bat in the WIS News 10 studios and you have been remarkably composed." Von said, "I have, I just hope it doesn't fly at me."

The bat didn't fly at Von, but did fly near Stewart several times during Von's weather cast. "During Von's main weather hit, it was flying around the studio and it got to within 5 feet of me," Stewart said. "And I thought it was going to make an appearance on air."

Our little visitor never did get its 15 minutes of fame, though.  It never made it on the air, but did fly around for the rest of the newscast and our Today show morning cut-ins. 

The presence of the creature had a few people in the newsroom on edge so, we decided to call in an expert.

The Executive Director of Columbia-based Carolina Wildlife Care

Weitzel pointed out that bats across the country are suffering from a fungus called Whitenose Syndrome.  According to the US Geological Service web page the fungus has claimed more than a million bats in eastern America within the past 3 years.  Weitzel says there are fears it could be coming to South Carolina.

 

"If we lose our bats," Weitzel says, "people will have a real reason to worry".  Bats are considered a "keystone species" and are vital to a healthy ecosystem.   To learn more about Carolina Wildlife Care go to www.carolinacare.org.

 

To learn more about Whitenose Syndrome go to http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/.

We found a tall ladder for Weitzel and she meticulously climbed up to the bat.  She slowly covered the bat with a net and was able to grab it with a towel and bring it down to the floor.

Weitzel said our visitor was an evening bat. "Probably a youngster who just found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Weitzel." 

Evening bats are one of the smaller bat species often weighing less than half an ounce and their tiny bodies fit easily in the palm of a hand. With a wingspan of about eight inches, evening bats look to be much larger when they're flying.

After safely getting our mysterious visitor into a temporary carrier, Weitzel explained what would happen to the dehydrated bat next. "He looks a little dehydrated," said Weitzel. "We have some evening bats that we can pair him up with... He'll be in the company of others and get to eat lots of meal worms."

Weitzel said the bat will be released in the spring.

Weitzel pointed out that bats across the country are suffering from a fungus called Whitenose Syndrome.  According to the US Geological Service web page the fungus has claimed more than a million bats in eastern America within the past 3 years.  Weitzel says there are fears it could be coming to South Carolina. 

"If we lose our bats," Weitzel says, "people will have a real reason to worry".  Bats are considered a "keystone species" and are vital to a healthy ecosystem.   

To learn more about Carolina Wildlife Care and how you can help please go to www.carolinacare.org

To learn more about Whitenose Syndrome go to http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/.

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