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Endangered bats delay north Georgia construction

6:11 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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GILMER COUNTY, Ga. -- Last summer one bat began a chain reaction that has led to the delay of hundreds of millions of dollars in GDOT road construction.

The delays affect 182 projects in 30 counties, all of which are in the northern part of Georgia.

Gilmer County, the Apple capital of Georgia, was visited last summer by an Indiana bat. It was wearing a tracker because the Indiana bat is an endangered species.

But when that lone bat flew into Gilmer County, the Georgia Department of Transportation then needed to check the surrounding areas. They found 30 counties with the potential for Indiana bats.

Now, each site must be tested before construction can resume.

"We're looking at the most vital projects," says GDOT spokesperson Jill Goldberg. "These are the ones where delaying those will cause the biggest impact to our program."

Testers will use an acoustic device to hear the bats and mist nets to trap the bats and put a tracker on them. This is all required by the federal government. Goldberg says those tests will cost $80,000-$120,000 per site.

An Indiana bat had not been spotted in Georgia since the 1960s. Indiana bats actually are known to benefit the environment by feeding on insects and pests like gypsy moths.

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