The University Record, September 6, 1994

Bats, other beasties all in a day’s work for Kuderick

By Mary Jo Frank

For Rosemary Kuderick, the challenge of the chase rivals the thrills of capturing and releasing her quarry.

Known by her grateful fans as “Bat Lady,” Kuderick rescues faculty, staff and students from encounters with ants and cockroaches, bees and wasps, squirrels and raccoons—and, of course, bats.

Kuderick is a pest management specialist in Occupational Safety and Environmental Health. Her colleagues are John J. Bozelak Jr., Bruce L. Donald, Dale R. Hodgson and Daniel L. Lyon.

“Fun, exciting, never know what’s going to happen” is how Kuderick, who joined the U-M 15 years ago, describes her job.

In August and early September, Kuderick usually is busy with bats, sometimes removing as many as six in one day from Central Campus buildings. Older structures such as Hutchins Hall, Legal Research Building and Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library are favorite haunts for the mouselike flying mammals with furry bodies and membranous wings.

“If the bat is on the wall, I usually cover it with a net, flip the net down and take the bat out and release it,” she says.

Netting a bat in flight can be difficult, but not impossible, if the bat is flying half-way between the ceiling and the floor. However, if the bat is flying high, even Kuderick can’t do much until it settles down.

“I used to be scared of bats, petrified. I would just stand there and watch them fly,” she recalls. Now artfully netting a bat and setting it free is all in a day’s work.

Joan A. Russell, administrative assistant in the Law School, often calls upon Kuderick for assistance.

“She always responds, she’s always pleasant,” observes Russell. “It amazes me what they do because they are so gentle with the critters. It is not a killing thing. They trap and release them.”

Getting rid of bees is Kuderick’s favorite assignment. “They fascinate me,” says Kuderick, who wears a protective suit when removing nests.

She can tell by looking at the nest if she is dealing with bees, yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets or wasps. Figuring out exactly where the nest is located is the biggest challenge, particularly when it is behind a brick and mortar wall.

On more than one occasion Kuderick has had to have Maintenances Services staff remove parts of walls to get to a nest. That was the case when the caretakers of Ingalls House were pestered with bees in the caretakers’ cottage. Spraying the many crevices in the slate roof failed to solve the problem. After a wall was taken down, Kuderick filled two large garbage bags with remains of the nest.

The bricks above the entrance of the Dow Building on North Campus posed a similar challenge. They too had to be removed and the area treated for bees.

Kuderick regularly receives calls about squirrels in buildings and raccoons in dumpsters. Wearing thick gloves, she uses a pole stick (a long pole with a loop at the end) to safely and humanely capture the animals and then releases them in the woods on Liberty Road or on North Campus.

Not all of her captives appreciate Kuderick’s efforts.

An ungrateful skunk sprayed her as she nudged him out of the cage to freedom.

“It was so bad they wouldn’t let me come back to work that day. I had to throw the clothes away,” Kuderick recalls.

When she is not responding to emergencies, Kuderick checks buildings for ants and cockroaches and occasionally suggests occupants clean up food crumbs and sticky soda pop cans.

In her spare time, Kuderick travels and makes candy. She and her daughter, Karen L. Kuderick, patient accounts representative at U-M Hospitals, molded 400 pounds of Easter candy last year —chocolate chicks, bunnies and lambs.

No chocolate-covered ants.