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Area conservationist J. David Bamberger sheds light on vampire bats mystery

Campers claim they were attacked by vampire bats in Johnson City

JOHNSON CITY, Texas - The emergence of the Mexican Freetail bats are one of the most fascinating sights in South Central Texas. A quarter of a million of them roost in a man-made bat cave on J. David Bamberger's ranch in Johnson City.

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He's been taken by them since the late 1980s and says whether it's positive or negative information, the public needs the truth. "Bats haven't had a good PR system in a long time," Bamberger said.

He heard the story of campers in Johnson City who were diagnosed with vampire bat bites. As it turns out, the campers stayed near the preserve on their trip.

Bamberger wondered if vampire bats were indeed moving into Texas, as he said a scientific colleague had predicted. He said skeptics who jumped to conclusion should 'never say never' without more proof.

"It could happen," said Bamberger. "And when these two leading scientists tell me three years ago they were expecting it, I was excited to call the University of Tennessee and talk to Dr. Gary McCracken and his first response was, 'Really? We've been expecting it.'"

Bamberger says research is needed to prove or disprove the diagnosis the campers received. Many in the scientific community came forward doubting the campers' claims.

"I don't think that's very good scientific ways, just to take something and blast away at it without getting some information," said Bamberger.

He said scientific evidence has shown that vampire bats, which make their home in Central America, are moving due to climate changes.

"You either adapt to a changing environment," said Bamberger.


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