Lincoln brewery halts work in caves,...

Posted at 3:15 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 18:46:06-05

A Lincoln brewery is waiting on mother nature before finishing part of their new location after a colony of threatened bat species was found in the cave on their site.

"We knew there were bats in there, but of course, there were Northern long eared bats," Brian Podwinski, president of Blue Blood Brewery said.

They also found big brown bats and tricolored bats in robber's cave, a favorite spot on the south side of Lincoln.

"It's kind of got this aura about it. People my age, who got in there, most of everybody did it illegally," Podwinski said. "Then back in my parents days they partied and they wouldn't talk about it today."

The northern long-eared bat became classified as federally threatened species last year, basically a step before becoming endangered. Mike Fitz, a Natural Heritage Zoologist with Wildlife division of Nebraska Game and Parks says. It's affecting the construction on Blue Blood’s 12,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant and taproom. But not too much. Podwinski spends his mornings helping take temperature measurements and reporting them back. Right now it's hibernating season for the bats, so that's why they're remaining undisturbed. If they wake up too early, it would mess up their metabolism and they would die.

"If it's too hot, their metabolism raises and they heat up too much, if it's too cold, then they have to raise their metabolism to keep warm and not freeze," Fitz says.

Crews are working on other parts of the building, and eventually will return to work on the caves when the bats are done. Where blue blood's owner says they'll have a spot just for themselves.That spot will be off limits, but the brewery plans to have tours and hold special events deep inside the Lincoln landmark, although a section will now be off-limits.

"Let them come and go as they please, but create an area where they are separate from the humans directly that way and hopefully the population continues to grow and thrive," Podwinski said.