ELLENTON, Fla. - A state law may to be blame for allowing hundreds of bats to wreak havoc at an Ellenton home, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
The bats were first discovered last May at the home belonging to Leo and Joan Masucci. "First thing we noticed was a rotten smell. We thought it was a dead animal under the house," Leo said.
It was one of their next door neighbors who noticed it wasn't a dead animal. Jon Koller fist noticed the bats while taking out his trash in the early morning hours. "They were swarming around the peak of the house. It looked like it was a scene out of a Hitchcock movie," said Koller.
The Masucci's called a wildlife removal company, but they were told the bats could not be removed due to a state law.
"That was when our nightmare began," Leo said.
The law states that between April and August, the mammals cannot be removed from someone's ceiling because it's mating season. "I was horrified you could not move these things that are inches above your head," said Joan.
The Masucci's would soon move out, and wait until the middle of August for the mammals to be removed. Late last month, the bats were taken away, but left about $15,000 worth of damage to the drywall.
The couple has returned home after construction workers made repairs. However, the Masucci's were forced to pay the costs out of their own pocket, because their insurance company would not. According to their policy with American Traditions Insurance, the company is not responsible for damage caused by rats, birds, insects, etc. Bats are not included on that list, Leo says.
"Bats are not in there as an exclusion. There is nothing there that says they don't cover bats. They do say they don't cover rats," said Leo.
The insurance company says they are aware of the situation and continues to look into it. The Masucci's are contemplating sharing their story with state legislators, with the hope that some reform can come to the bat law.