Driven Out Of House And Home - By Newts

On a patch of postcard-perfect English countryside, John and Margie Histed's 300-year-old house was their dream home - until last summer's floods ruined almost everything.

"It was distressing, but frankly you don't get very far by lying down and crying about this sort of thing, what you've got to do is pick yourself up," John Histed told CBS News correspondent Richard Roth.

They did, and repairs would have been done by now - if it hadn't rained last month, flooding the house again.

Still stuck in a trailer, the Histeds discovered their real problem isn't English weather, it's English wildlife.

"The newts are the problem," John said.

"Great crested newts," Margie said.

"Not the common newt, the great crested newt," John said.

About as big as a finger, the ancient amphibious great crested newt is protected by British and European law. John Histed discovered that fact when he found the reason his house keeps flooding is a blocked drainage ditch between a highway and his house.

But clearing the ditch is not so simple. The law says that's absolutely forbidden, because the ditch may be home to a colony of newts.

Has John seen any?

"No," he said.

And no one has. But Britain's highway agency says the ditch now must be surveyed - and any newts must be counted.

Unfortunately for John and Margie Histed, even a newt survey right now is just out of the question because if newts are living here, this is the season they'd be breeding. And trying to count them, might interrupt them.

And that's not allowed either.

At least not for another three months or so, which might leave little time to clear the ditch before it is flood season again.

"A possible newt habitat is taking precedence over a human habitat 300 years old, does it make sense?" John Histed asked.

Well, they were here first.