These days, thanks to a draconian law brought about by people with beards wearing tweeds and sandals, lobbying the government on a day the government just wanted something to do, disturbing a single bat is a crime worthy of hanging. Well, not quite that bad, you understand, but a severe fine and a criminal record is more than enough to make someone think twice about waking the little critters from their daily slumber.
I notified English Nature, as the law dictates, and they sent a ‘bat worker’ round to spend the evening monitoring. The builders continued to work elsewhere, away from the roof, as quietly as possible (digging a foundation, if you must know). Despite charming assurances from the Bat People on the telephone, I received a horrible letter saying that all work must cease at once, and could not start again until the bat season was over, and how dare we even consider repairing the roof when the bats needed it. (There was no mention of the people who also happened to live there, and for whom the building was actually constructed).
From later on in the post….
We got off lightly. There are some kinds of bats that are so rare, that some buildings are simply not allowed to be worked on at all (according to a colleague who this happened to) even if it is listed and in danger of falling down. There are some people with colonies of 300 bats in their roof, all peeing and pooing into the insulation. Despite what the nicey nicey literature on English Nature’s website says about bat poo being ambrosia from heaven, it actually stinks. Many churches have bats, and whilst in some parts of the building they do not cause much of a problem (the belfry!) bat droppings all over the ancient furnishings are not particularly desirable. English Nature’s advice? Put cloths over everything.
Unlike most people, I like bats. I never had the problems with them that most people seem to have. There is something cool about seeing bats flying around and I always figured that anything eating bugs was a friend of mine. But if they had laws like this in America I would be killing every bat I could find. There are ways of killing the buggers without being caught.
But it is no surprise that England has laws like this on the book. If they let pirates go because they are afraid of violating their human rights, they ought to treat the bats at least as well.