Endangered bat could slow highway construction

Claudine Zap
The Sideshow

All it takes to derail a $31 million interchange: one bat.

The sole female Indiana bat found near a highway construction project in West Des Moines, Iowa, has become a roadblock to an interchange being built to bring more development to the area and ease traffic congestion. That's because the tiny, brown-furred creature, which weighs a mere one-quarter ounce, is on the state and federal endangered species list.

Officials reason where there’s one bat, there are probably more, including baby bats. They have asked for construction to stop until a study can be conducted of the area.

Kraig McPeak from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained to local station KCCI, “It simply identifies the areas that are most sensitive to the bat and then we just work with whomever’s doing the project to minimize impact to the areas.”

West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer told KCCI the study was bad timing. "If it was needed we would have rather done it years ago when we built the bridge [that the interchange will connect to], and then we could have addressed it at that time."

The study can’t start until May, after the bats are done hibernating. The interchange project, meanwhile, might be delayed four or five months.