Bats in its belfry cause British church to close

August 10, 2011

A beleaguered 11th-century church in England is losing its worshipers
and has been forced to suspend services indefinitely because of bats in
its belfry.

Bats are a protected species in Britain, and the
Anglican St. Hilda's Church in Ellerburn, North Yorkshire, is trying—so
far with no luck—to get a license to get rid of its share of them.

Churchwarden
Liz Cowley said the bats have taken up residence in the church's upper
regions and are making a mess of the place. "The walls and floors are
covered with bat droppings," Cowley told the BBC. "We have tried to keep
the church clean, but we have lost the battle."

She added that "services have had to be canceled, and we cannot realistically open the church."

Ashley
Burgess, a member of the local parish church council, said the
congregation has raised £10,000 (about U.S. $16,000) to build new roosts
for the bats away from the main building, but they remain stubbornly
en­trenched in the church's upstairs.

"The financial cost has been
huge," Burgess added. "Nobody wants to sit in a bat-stained church, and
our congregation has dwindled as a result."  —RNS