Are The Protections For Bats At Fair Grounds Field A Pile Of Guano?
Bats, bats, bats...that seems to be the conversation anytime someone talks about cleaning up the Fair Grounds Field mess in Shreveport. But, why?
It's obvious from sitting in the parking lot of the State Fair Grounds, or driving by on I-20, Fair Grounds Field needs to be taken care of. There have been plenty of ideas to revitalize the structure, but it's becoming more and more obvious that the return on investment of a project like that wouldn't make sense. To compete with modern Minor League Baseball parks, you're looking at a project that would cost $75 million to $100 million. That money would have to come from the City of Shreveport, and then they'd have to gift it to a franchise to run a team. Not to mention all of the issues you'd have with Major League Baseball agreements.
And if you think for a second a non-MLB affiliated team would survive here, I would suggest you look at the track record of sports franchises in Shreveport and Bossier City. There's ONE success that wasn't attached to a Major League franchise (looking at you Mudbugs).
Basically, Fair Grounds Field needs to be demolished. More and more people are realizing this, especially after critically thinking of what it would cost the city to make the stadium useable again.
About 7 years ago, when the talks of demolishing Fair Grounds Field were starting to ramp up. But there was something thrown out that stalled those talks quick. The bats.
Not baseball bats, but flying mammal bats. There was an issue with those bats that would prevent action right away on the stadium. Now, that original conversation has morphed into a weird urban legend about the bats that is preventing the cleaning and demolition of the building. The original concern wasn't about the bats, it was about their droppings.
In this 2015 KTBS article, the conversation about the bats is limited to the poisonous guano (bat droppings, thanks Ace Ventura). That was it. No talk about an expensive process to relocate them, just that their droppings are poisonous, which they are.
But that original bat conversation turned into this Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) legend that the stadium will have to remain standing as long as there are bats there. When I first heard this, I thought it was odd to begin with, because the EPA isn't a wildlife department. Why would the EPA get to decide something like that? Well, they don't.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of the Interior, are the ones who takes care of wildlife related matters in our county. Sure, the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife Services have worked together, and they maintain each others laws when they create new ones...but they're separate.
But hey, US Fish and Wildlife Services does maintain a listing of protected and endangered species. So as long as these bats fall under one of those categories, there are protections that would make it very difficult to clear them out of the stadium. So it would be really easy to just cross-reference the types of bats on these lists to see if the bats at Fair Grounds Field are on the list. If that's the case, we have a problem.
However...looking over the list of endangered and protected bats in the Unites States, Louisiana is not featured as a state that any of these species are found in. Meaning it would be a pretty big surprise to find out the bats in Fair Grounds Field are protected by an endangered species list.
Now, after a little more digging I did find a protection that may apply to the bats at Fair Grounds Field. And you know what, it actually is from the EPA. So maybe after working myself up that this whole bat protection thing at Fair Grounds Field might be made up, there might be something to it.
I read through the protection. It's in the guidelines of Environmental Protection Agency's Federal Insecticide, Fengicide, and Rodentcide Act (FIFRA), Section 24(c) and it does offer a protection for bats. But not the kind of protection that has been advertised around Shreveport for the last 7 years.
Under Section 24 of the Federal Insecticide, Fengicide, and Rodentcide Act (FIFRA), it essentially says that you are prohibited from using pesticide or rodenticide on bats that doesn't specifically label "bats" on it's EPA use label.
The only protection from the EPA, that we could find, just says you can't use d-Con, Raid, or Arsenic to remove bats. Nothing about demolishing a building they're in, or relocating them, or mating season.
Maybe there's a Louisiana protection? Perhaps the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has a bat law. We jumped over to their dedicated site on bats, read through everything they offer, and couldn't find anything. No listing of endangered species, no protection laws.
So what is the deal? Why has this urban legend about these bats prevented the cleaning up of this area? Maybe The City knows something that you can't find online. Perhaps these are the first appearance of an endangered species of bat in Louisiana, and the city knows this, but no one else does. Maybe The City knows of a deep cut in EPA laws that supersedes the US Fish and Wildlife Services endangered species laws.
It's totally possible that The City of Shreveport knows something that is not readily available online. But based on the information that you can find from the US Fish and Wildlife Services and EPA, there doesn't appear to be any protections preventing Fair Grounds Field from being cleaned up.