Batty lawsuits

What do safe sex, reading, and proper admonition of Mexican free-tailed bats have in common? They're just a few of the topics people think schools should teach. The latter, free-tailed bats (so named because a bit of their tails project beyond their uropatagia, of course), have taken up residence in some Salt Lake City schools that lie along the mammals' migratory route. Usually content to nest nocturnally in school attics, the immigrants occasionally "pop out of school vents, hang from wall fixtures outside the school, perch on the ceilings, or fly across the school's fourth-floor halls." Alas, an inquisitive lad captured one of the insectivores to impress his buddies; mom didn't take kindly to it. She's filed a lawsuit, alleging that the school "failed to warn her son of potential dangers from the animals, including rabies." Bat blather! says the Utah Attorney General's office-the state is not responsible for adolescent tomfoolery. True. But the biology unit on mammals should really come alive this year (large bat colonies eat 30,000 pounds of insects each night-a factoid more disturbing Gadfly cannot even imagine!).

"Stopover for bats on their way to Mexico," by Ben Fulton, The Salt Lake Tribune, September 15, 2008