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City slicker doing battle with uninvited guest

Special Photo 
A bat is making its home at the house of an east McDonough homeowner. The homeowner, an ex-lawman, has tried to catch it at night, but it flies the coop to forage for food.

Special Photo A bat is making its home at the house of an east McDonough homeowner. The homeowner, an ex-lawman, has tried to catch it at night, but it flies the coop to forage for food.

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Will Tillman's transition from the urban social setting of tropical Miami into a more subdued bucolic life in semi-rural Henry County, has been different.

He left the glamorous beaches of southern Florida, expecting to see things like kudzu, red clay, deer, squirrels, and maybe even a possum, or two. He even began his attempts at fitting into the rural setting of the Ola community by raising five Pigmy goats. He kept them for almost two years on his 5.5 acre east McDonough property, until he sold them on Craig's List five months ago.

Now, the former Miami policeman is concocting a plan to rid his home of an uninvited critter -- a lone bat that has taken up residency in his attic. The nocturnal, flying mammal came a couple of months ago, not long after the goats were sold.

"My main concern is, if there are going to be more of them," said Tillman, 33. He has good reason. Various bats feed on insects, nectar, fruit, flesh, or blood, according to experts.

"I foresee it being a project, not a quick-fix thing," Tillman said of his efforts to rid himself of the bat. In between his six-miles-a-week runs, and work, he believes he will find a solution.

Tillman's latest effort involved paying a visit to his neighborhood hardware store. He purchased butterfly nets, thinking he might be able to remove the bat, or block it from entering his attic during the day.

The bat leaves its temporary home in Tillman's attic after sunset, to forage for food, he said. During the day, the bat hangs near the attic vent in slumber.

"I can't get close enough to get over to him," said Tillman, who is cautious not to walk the rafters of the two-story home he bought in 2007. Tillman stands at 5-feet, 11-inches tall, and carries about 245 pounds of brawn.

The former patrolman, who has worked as a narcotics detective, said he exercises as much caution around the animal, as he would around criminal suspects.

Tillman said he left Miami to become a probation officer in Clayton County. He later left the grind of law enforcement to temporarily pursue a part-time business in photography and videography. He now works full-time as a case manager for Medicaid and Medicare recipients at Source Care Management, in Conyers.

"I really like learning and exploring, and everything is new to me here," said Tillman.

He acknowledged that, before this summer, he had not seen a live bat. He had not encountered deer, possum, or goats.

"I bought some goats when I got here," said Tillman. He said he sold them, realizing the amount of work and upkeep necessary even for goats was considerable.

Tillman expressed few regrets in moving to rural Henry County, even though he misses the social lifestyle so connected to living in Miami.

"All together, the cost of living was definitely up my alley," he said. "It [metro Atlanta] also seems to be a melting pot for people who want to be successful. But this [bat], here ... I was minding my own business, and he decided to move in."