Never miss a story
Sign up for our free daily morning email...
...and afternoon text update

become a member

Mexican free-tail bats in the Austin skyline

The long-term damage caused by Winter Storm Uri is becoming more and more evident, and Austin's bat population is no exception.

The bats, which serve as both a tourist attraction and token of pride for many Austinites, have been found dead or dying en masse under bridges and overpasses throughout the city.

Austin Animal Center officials said they have heard reports of 60-100 dead bats since the storm kept temperatures subfreezing for days.

To help combat the issue, conservation groups including Austin Bat Refuge are rehabilitating the animals using insulin syringes and feeding supplies to keep bats alive.

Officials are quickly realizing that mass bat deaths are happening statewide. On Wednesday, Texas Parks and Wildlife posted pictures of what looked to be hundreds of dead bats on Facebook. The department asked for the public's help in reporting bat deaths by checking under bridges, reporting how many bats can be found and putting data into the iNaturalist project. Over 2,000 wildlife deaths have been reported as a result of Winter Storm Uri in the project.

The mass deaths are distressing to wildlife experts because bats are vital to Texas agriculture, acting as a "natural pest control" by controlling insect populations. As a result, if bats were to go extinct in the area, food prices would rise.

Austin, with its 1.5 million Congress Avenue Bridge bats, has even more ties to the animals. While the bats offer a uniquely Austin experience that attracts tourists and locals alike, they also eat up to 30,000 bugs a night, giving the city a more insect-free experience as well. The mosquito-repelling animals that reside in the city are also North America's largest urban bat population.

Austin Animal Center warned residents not to touch bats when making reports. If a dead or dying bat is found, the department said to call Austin 311 so the animals can get the care they need. Austin Bat Rescue is also asking for donations of 1 ml insulin syringes to help save more bats.


Artist Chris Rogers painted this East Austin mural after the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, center. Mike Ramos, third from left, was shot to death by an Austin police officer on April 24. (Austonia)

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three charges—second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter—in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man whose final moments were recorded by onlookers, sparking a global protest movement over police violence and racial injustice. He faces up to 40 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated for 10 hours over two days after an intense, three-week trial before reaching a verdict Tuesday afternoon, four days shy of the first anniversary of the Austin police killing of Mike Ramos, an unarmed, 42-year-old Black and Hispanic man whose name became a rallying cry—along with Floyd's—for Austin protestors, who marched en masse last summer, prompting some police reforms.

Keep Reading Show less

Miami and Austin are going head-to-head for tech transplants. (Pexels)

Californians love Texas, and Austin—with its liberal politics, relatively affordable housing and job opportunities—is particularly adored. In fact, the Lone Star State was the main recipient of departing Californians in 2019, according to the latest available U.S. Census Bureau data.

But other states, including Florida, are seeing increased interest. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has made a name for himself on Twitter recruiting techies and hyping up his city, which has a lot in common with Austin—with the added benefit of a beach and sans the "Don't California my Texas" attitude.

Keep Reading Show less

(Austin FC/Twitter)

In the days after Austin FC's inaugural match against LAFC on Saturday, Head Coach Josh Wolff says he's watched the game "a number of times, to say the least."

In the match, Wolff and over 500,000 other viewers looked on as Austin FC took to the pitch for the first time, held their own in the first half against LAFC and eventually fell 2-0 to a team that's sometimes regarded as the best in the league.

Keep Reading Show less