Country Mouse on Bats & Churches

Bats have been strictly protected since 1981. It’s a ferocious piece of legislation, with fines of up to £5,000 per bat for an offence against them, but it’s done a great deal to protect many of our 17 native breeds. I enjoy seeing bats; flittering around the garden, they add an ethereal charm to a summer’s evening. The shame is the damage that they do. Too many buildings where they roost and the communities that use them are being damaged by bats. There are, for instance, churches with a serious bat issues; the problem is not the bats themselves, but the excrement that cascades from their roosts.

Many churches have to cover all the pews with polythene to prevent the mess spoiling all the church furniture. It’s also a health hazard. I’m all for protecting endangered species, but a sense of proportion has got to be had. No church would want to risk rehousing the very rare Bechstein’s bat, Britain’s rarest mammal, but why ruin the church and the community for the much commoner pipistrelle, which isn’t threatened? Why should all breeds of bats be treated the same way? By all means protect them, but let’s apply some common sense, too.