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Possible solution to protect millions of bats

By: Lauren Lea

COMAL COUNTY - An agreement is in the works which could be a "win-win" for millions of Mexican free-tailed bats and a San Antonio developer.  Fran Hutchins, with Bat Conservation International, says the group is in talks with Galo Properties to buy a 1,500 acre property from the developer.  The property is adjacent to the land where the Bracken Cave is located.  The cave is home to more than 10 million bats every summer. A proposed development called Crescent Hills would have built thousands of homes directly in the bats' flight path.

Hutchins credited Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff and Rep. Lyle Larson for bringing both sides together to discuss buying the property.

"We'll be able to protect the bats and that flight zone when they leave the cave every night. That'll eliminate the concerns we have with the bat and human interactions that would be going on every night," he said.  "For me, it's great news. We'll still be able to have public tours and the public can take advantage of this wonderful, natural spectacle we have here every night and it will be protected as it should."

The land could one day become a park, with some of it accessible to the public with hike and bike trails.  However, the deal is not done and no plans are final, he said.  Buying the land would also protect the golden-cheeked warbler habitat and the Edwards Aquifer, because the land is over the recharge zone.

Hutchins says no cost has been discussed at this point and BCI has not begun fundraising.  The group plans to seek some public funding from Bexar and Comal County Commissioners and the San Antonio City Council to bolster the private donations.  Galo Properties did not return News 4's phone call Wednesday afternoon.
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