AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The Canyon Police Department asks residents to be on the look out for the upcoming Mexican free-tailed bat migration.
Mexican free-tailed bats live in the Panhandle year around, but come spring time, the numbers swell as they migrate north into Oklahoma to roost and have their young.
Professor Ray Matlock is a wildlife biology professor at West Texas A&M University and studies free-tailed bats. He said they have a bad rap.
"f you look at where the rabies cases come from in the Panhandle of Texas, so many of them are from things like skunks, or cats, or even livestocks. Bats are over stated," said Matlock. "A sick bat is laying there on the ground, like a wet paper towel. A sick skunk, that's a whole different story."
Only five to 10 percent of Mexican free-tailed bats carry the rabies virus. If one is sick, it will most likely lay on the ground.
Officials say if you come across a bat, instructions are simple: don't touch it and call animal control or the police department.
"The migration happens every year. Thousands and thousands of bats are flying around," said Matlock. "Some of them are going to get sick and we're going to find them. Again, it's gonna be there on the ground. Don't handle grounded bats and you are fine."
The free tailed bats are not aggressive, but because of the potential for rabies, you are asked to stay clear.
The peak of migration will be in May.