GREEN TOWNSHIP - Hundreds of bats have resided in the attic of a North Jersey church, but now members want them out so they can have the historic building back.
The Tranquility Methodist Church in Green Township has been a sanctuary for worshipers for nearly 200 years. For the last few decades, it's also been a home for about 350 big brown bats.
Over time, parishioners have learned to co-exist with the bats, but now they're holding up progress on rebuilding the church.
MORE: Animals in the News
The building suffered water and wind damage from Superstorm Sandy and hasn't been used since. Experts say they can't begin restoration until the bats leave.
By law, no one is allowed to kill or harm the bats, and they have to be able to leave the attic on their own.
Church officials say they have come up with a solution to relocate the bats. "They will install exit doors," says Kelly Simonetti, of Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary. "It's a narrow funnel so they can go out but they cannot come back in."
The doors will be installed over existing holes in the attic in the next few weeks. Meantime, wildlife experts have set up six bat houses on the back of the church to serve as the nocturnal creatures' new homes.
When all of the bats are finally out of the attic, the small congregation can begin reviving its church.
Locals say they want to keep the bats nearby. At night, they circle the farms and eat bugs, allowing farmers to use fewer pesticides.