November 2005, Volume 3, Issue 11

A Young Champion for Bats


The next time you feel like your one voice can’t make much of a difference, consider the case of seven-year-old Ian Starkey of Mount Morris, Illinois. When a number of residents asked the county government to do something about bats living in the Old Lee County Court House, Ian – a member of Bat Conservation International – wrote a letter to a county official explaining exactly why “bats are good.”

He attended a meeting of the county properties committee and the County Board, which, reports Sauk Valley Newspapers, gave him a hearty round of applause – and learned quite a bit about bats.

Reporter Daine Markel wrote that Ian’s campaign began when he convinced his mother to call County Maintenance Supervisor Chris Henkel, who invited Ian in for a talk about the bats. Ian showed up with stack of information and the meeting lasted an hour and a half.

Ian followed up with a letter to Henkel, who read it to the Properties Committee, then distributed it officially to each board member.

“I read in the newspaper that you do not like having bats in your building,” Ian wrote. “But I want you to know that bats are not scary. I think they are cool. Bats are good because they eat bad bugs like mosquitoes and the moths that eat corn.

” He also advised the county officials that bats generally avoid people, are rarely seen during daylight unless they are disturbed and don’t get rabies any more frequently than cats.

Bats, the newspaper said, have been showing up at the old courthouse for several years, but the numbers seem a bit higher than usual this year. Henkel notified a state agency and the U.S. Department of Wildlife Services of the situation. No action had been taken by mid-September, and the bats moved out of the courthouse at the end of summer.

Ian’s letter to his local government concluded: “I learned about bats from Bat Conservation International, books, videos and two classes. If you want to learn more about bats, you can do this, too.”

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