ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Game wardens confirm bats can be removed in any way and even killed if they are at an occupied building in Texas.

Wednesday, a colony of 181 bats was removed from the Mall of Abilene with professional services from Big Country Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Bat World Sanctuary.

However, these 181 bats were not the end of the problem. Bats that were still roosting inside the building were not removed, and rehab professionals say mall management sealed up their exits to the outside.

This forced them to seek exit into the mall Thursday. Big Country Wildlife Rehab claims the manager allegedly trapped two of the bats in a box, then brought the box out to his vehicle, where they later died.

Many members of the public, as well as both Big Country Wildlife Rehab and Bat World, have expressed outrage at the deaths, claiming the mall management’s actions were inhumane and possibly even illegal due to bats being a protected species.

Bat World calls the mall management’s actions, “wholly unacceptable and cruel” and after the bats died, and Big Country Wildlife Rehab also stated that, “an hour in this heat is cruel and inhumane.”

KTAB and KRBC reached out to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to see if game wardens were investigating this incident, and they said they are aware of what happened due to the numerous phone calls they’ve received from the public but nothing illegal occurred.

Texas Parks and Wildlife does classify bats as a protected species, however, that protection ends when they choose to roost in a public building.

“Bats may be moved, trapped, or killed if inside or on a building occupied by people,” the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife website states.

When asked if mall management did anything illegal by putting the bats in a box and letting them die, the Game Wardens said that no – Texas law does not state how the bats can or cannot be removed, and pest control can even be called in to terminate the entire colony.

The Mall of Abilene says they are continuing to work with several agencies to ensure the rest of the bats are removed.