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June 05, 2006

Batty Regulations

You what?

If, however, the bats decide to move into your sitting room, it is open season. Proportionate force, if that is the phrase, may be used to ensure that your soft furnishings remain untainted by their droppings, and your pet insects safe from their ravening hunger. This is a "special exemption", apparently.

Now, as my perspicacious Sunday Telegraph colleague Roya Nikkhah has discovered, Defra is quietly putting through proposals to abolish this exemption. This, they say, is to "provide further clarity".

The sort of clarity they have in mind is as follows: in order to evict bat squatters from areas of human habitation, you will have first to prove that it is in the overriding public interest to do so, and then to apply for a licence that will take 30 days to issue.

Should Defra decide that my having the use of my sitting room to watch Celebrity X Factor is not in the overriding public interest, I guess I'm out of luck. Unilateral action could land me with a £5,000 fine or a six-month prison sentence.

Am I in a minority in thinking that this is, err, just possibly a tad , umm, insane?

June 5, 2006 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


Much as I am in favour of protecting endangered wildlife, I'd hazard a guess that the consequence of this will be that people who find bats in their houses will be less likely to tell the local wildlife officer than before. Instead, I suspect they will invest in a cheap BB gun and dispatch their unwelcome houseguests before concealing any evidence of bat. As Mr du Toit likes to remind us: The simple answer is shoot, shovel and shut up.

Another gloriously stupid example of government action likely to have precisely the opposite effect to the one intended. How can people still believe that state action is the most efficient way to achieve things?


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 5, 2006 10:41:42 AM

Just blow a dog whistle.

No person will hear it, but the bats will get the message.

Posted by: AntiCitizenOne | Jun 5, 2006 12:45:50 PM

Violence solves nothing. By injuring or killing the bat, you only provoke more bats to move in.

Posted by: P. Froward | Jun 5, 2006 1:09:52 PM


Blowing a dog whistle is probably considered just as bad where bats are concerned; I think the legislation is aimed at preventing disturbance as well as physical harm. Still, it's better than shooting the little buggers.

Mr Froward,

How many people think in those terms when they have some pesky critter crapping on the Axeminster? Methinks their first reaction will be to just get rid of them. Prevention of returning pests involves blocking up whatever holes they have used to gain access in the first place.

I still think this is quite possibly one of the dumbest peices of regulation I've ever heard and somehow suspect that it will do bats no good whatsoever.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 5, 2006 1:26:32 PM

RM, I agree that very few people think in those terms during a bat visit, but that only goes to show how desperate the need is for proper training in non-violent conflict resolution. People must learn to listen rather than simply react. They will often find that the bat's demands are reasonable. After all, the bat's ancestors have swooped for eons through the airspace now obstructed by your house. Who are you to drop by, throw up a few walls, and declare that the space may no longer be used by any species but your own? You are a settler. Your presence there is illegitimate because the bat has a prior claim.

Only when human beings introduced conflict and violence into nature did these problems become inevitable. It is therefore incumbent on you, the aggressor, to resolve the problem.

Posted by: P. Froward | Jun 5, 2006 4:51:39 PM

Mr Froward,

Are you sure you weren't running the "Union Reps Are People Too" course at our mine a couple of weeks ago?

On the bat vs house thing - if the little buggers haven't learnt how to put a planning objection in, then I say they've got what's coming to them.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 5, 2006 7:54:11 PM

Do those high-pitched thingies that you plug into your electric sockets work? Anyone know?

Posted by: Bob Doney | Jun 5, 2006 11:04:42 PM

Plugging bats into electric sockets is cruel.

Posted by: Natalie Solent | Jun 6, 2006 5:34:10 PM

And they stop working pretty quickly.

Posted by: Natalie Solent | Jun 6, 2006 5:42:28 PM

Bob, plugging your thingie into an electric socket will certainly make you high-pitched, but it may have long-term negative effects, like rigor mortis.

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 7, 2006 1:32:07 PM

This has been the case for years in churches.

Some churches obey the law and end up with their premises unusable due to bat piss etc etc.

Others find a man to whom somehow they pay a sum of money; nobody knows if there's a connection, but soon afterwards the bats disappear, as if by magic.

It's the good old law of unintended consquences again.

Or perhaps not unintended: the law-abiding majority get screwed and the crims have a field day. Hmm, sounds like a few other NuLab initiatives to me.

Posted by: andrew duffin | Jun 8, 2006 12:32:15 PM

Maybe some of these unwanted bats would like to come to my place. I'm trying to attract them so that they will eat the mosquitos, which they're apparently quite good at--even put up a "bat house," but no takers so far.

Posted by: david foster | Jun 9, 2006 1:15:37 AM