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Bat Group Bulletin No. 148

BCT Bat Group Bulletin No. 148: 21 September 2017

  1. EBLV2 Positive Bat from Derbyshire
  2. Passive Surveillance Programme
  3. Rabies Vaccinations
  4. Natural England Bat Advice Service Review Workshops
  5. The British Bat Survey Update
  6. Changes to the National Bat Monitoring Programme Team
  7. Bearing Witness for Wildlife Training
  8. Kaleidoscope Pro training and a chance to win a year’s licence!
  9. What should be on the BCT training menu for 2018?
  10. Bat Box Design Competition
  11. Bat Research Papers & Reports
  12. Key Dates for Your Diary

1. EBLV2 Positive Bat from Derbyshire

We want to let you know that a Daubenton’s bat has tested positive for European Bat Lyssavirus strain 2 (EBLV2) (a rabies virus) at a site in Derbyshire. The bat was submitted to the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) as part of the on-going passive surveillance scheme.

We have known of the presence of EBLV2 at a low level in our Daubenton’s bat population for a number of years. We have had at least one case every year over the past few years so this latest case is in line with expectations. The presence of the virus in a small number of bats (a total of 15 positive cases, including this most recent case) does not affect the UK’s rabies-free health status.

If you have any questions about this case or the general situation relating to rabies in the UK there is information on the BCT website or you are welcome to get in touch with the National Bat Helpline (by email or calling 0345 1300 228).

The ‘Good Practice Guidelines on Bats & Rabies’ and guidance on ‘Wearing Gloves when Handling Bats’ are available from the BCT website and it is important this information is shared with bat group members. There is also a separate document aimed at bat rehabilitators caring for Daubenton’s bats. There will some further amendments made to this document following a request from a bat carer. We will circulate the updated version of that document when that is available via this Bulletin and the Bat Carers Bulletin.

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2. Passive Surveillance Programme

The bat in item 1. was tested under the surveillance programme to monitor for EBLV in Great Britain. More than 15,000 bats have been tested since 1986 and only 13 have previously been found to be infected through testing under this programme. All were Daubenton’s bats. A saliva swab collected from a Daubenton’s bat under an APHA/Scottish Government active surveillance scheme in 2008 also tested positive for EBLV2, making the total 15 in all, including the most recent case.

Of the more than 15,000 bats submitted to the scheme fewer than 600 have been Daubenton’s bats. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to encourage bat workers to submit dead bats (for example ones that have died in care, been found during roost visits, etc.) for testing. The passive surveillance programme is important to our understanding of the distribution of EBLV2 in the UK.

The APHA are especially interested in Daubenton’s bats, Natterer’s bats and serotines but all species (apart from pipistrelles) are accepted. Pipistrelles no longer need to be sent to the APHA, with the exception of those involved in a bat bite incident with either a person or another animal such as a cat or a dog; or where identification of the species is in doubt.

The APHA team recently published a paper providing a summary of the scheme from 2010 to 2015. Unfortunately this paper hasn’t been published in an open access journal but you can read the abstract online (doi: 10.1017/S0950268817001455).

The National Bat Helpline (email or call 0345 1300 228) can send out packs to people who want to submit bats for testing.

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3. Rabies Vaccinations

EBLV is normally transmitted by means of a bite or scratch from an infected bat. The risk of the disease being passed from a bat to a human or other mammal is very low because the disease is present at such low levels in Great Britain and most people have very minimal contact with bats. However, as a precaution anyone who regularly handles bats in the UK is routinely vaccinated against rabies and BCT recommends that anyone needing to handle a bat wears gloves.

If you have questions about vaccinations, the wearing of gloves, or the general situation relating to rabies in the UK there is information on the BCT website or you are welcome to contact the National Bat Helpline (by email or calling 0345 1300 228).

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4. Natural England Bat Advice Service Review Workshops

As part of their review of the Bat Advice Service, Natural England have invited Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors (VBRVs) & trainee VBRVs to Bat Review Workshops. The aim of the workshops is to give volunteers the opportunity to input their views to the review process and help to shape the approach that Natural England will take with the future of the service. Natural England have told us how keen they are to take into account what volunteers have to say as part of the review process and we would also encourage as many VBRVs and trainee VBRVs to attend as possible. We hope that the workshops will give volunteers the opportunity to share their opinions and ideas, and hearing those will help Natural England continue to work to ensure there is a full and effective Bat Advice Service which addresses the needs of both bats and volunteers.

A member of BCT’s Senior Management Team will be present at each workshop and a representative of the National Bat Helpline to offer support or guidance where needed.

If you are a VBRV or a trainee and haven’t received a communication about these events directly from Natural England please email them as soon as possible. This is also the email address to send booking forms for the events, which were sent out with the email from Natural England and should be returned at least five days before the event takes place. Spaces are being allocated on a first come, first served basis.

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5. The British Bat Survey

Bat monitoring technology has improved rapidly since the inception of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) in 1996. BCT are working with researchers from University College London, Oxford University and the British Trust for Ornithology to develop a new survey for the NBMP, the British Bat Survey, which will utilise the latest developments in acoustic sensor design, automated call recognition and interactive volunteer feedback. For details of some of the work underway so far see the British Bat Survey webpages.

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6. Changes to the National Bat Monitoring Programme Team

Dr Katherine Boughey, BCT’s Head of Monitoring & Science, began her maternity leave two weeks ago, and we are delighted to report that Katherine gave birth to baby Alice last Thursday. Our very warm wishes go to Katherine and her husband Rob. Katherine will be on maternity leave until the end of July next year.

Philip Briggs will be taking on the role of Monitoring Manager during this period. On the science side of things Dr Charlotte Hawkins (previously Walters) is taking on the part-time role of Science Manager (two days per week). Charlotte will lead on our research collaborations and the development of the British Bat Survey. Charlotte did her PhD at ZSL on improving predictions of species responses to climate change. She used European bats as a case study, developed an acoustic identification tool for European bats and won the Vincent Weir Science award. Charlotte has also worked on a range of science and monitoring projects including the iBats project,  writing invasive species impact  assessment protocols and as a science freelancer with BCT.

Becky Wilson will be taking on some new responsibilities as Acting Survey Manager and we have recruited Thomas Sheppard to join the NBMP team, who joins us next week.

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7. Bearing Witness for Wildlife Training

Currently wildlife crime is not recorded, investigated or prosecuted effectively and BCT’s Bearing Witness for Wildlife Conservation Wildlife Crime Project is working to address this. One way is by offering training for anyone wanting to improve their skills in recognising and reporting wildlife crime or when acting as a witness.

The course will be presented by Craig Fellowes, assisted by BCT’s own Conservation Wildlife Crime Officer Pete Charleston. Between them they have over sixty years policing experience and almost fifty years investigating wildlife crime. The course will be taking place in London on 09 November and costs just £55 for non-members, £50 for BCT members.

For more information see the BCT training web pages.   

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8. Kaleidoscope Pro training and a chance to win a year’s licence!

Wildlife Acoustics and BCT have teamed up to offer a new one-day course that will introduce participants to Kaleidoscope Pro, and its ability to analyse large data sets. The course will focus on both the free and full versions of the software and its application within the profession. The course will be led by Wildlife Acoustics' Paul Howden-Leach, an expert in Kaleidoscope Pro. Participants will receive a training key giving them access to Kaleidoscope Pro for two weeks. All profits from the course will go to the Bat Conservation Trust.

Course dates: 17 Oct – Swindon, 10 Nov – Leeds

Participants from both courses will be entered into a prize draw to win a full Kaleidoscope Pro license (worth $1499) provided by Wildlife Acoustics.

For more information the BCT training web pages.

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9. What should be on the BCT training menu for 2018?

Having thoroughly enjoyed her first eight months as Training and Conferences Manager for BCT, Naomi Webster is now facing the exciting, but also rather intimidating prospect of developing the training programme for 2018. Rather like a chef facing an enticingly stocked larder, she has a veritable smorgas board of batty training choices; a great range of informative and engaging courses that can be delivered by highly experienced experts. But which should she select for the 2018 menu? And where should we serve them up?

With several new dishes added to this season’s menu, Naomi will certainly be monitoring bookings and feedback to see how they are received. The new Bearing Witness for Wildlife training will be taking place in London on 09 November, for anyone wanting to improve their skills in recognising and reporting wildlife crime or when acting as a witness, and the Kaleidoscope Pro course will be taking place in Swindon on 17 October and Leeds on 10 November led by Wildlife Acoustics’ Paul Howden-Leach.

Some familiar topics have already made it onto the list with Bat Ecology and Conservation, Using Bat Detectors and Surveying for Bats all offering a great foundation for ecologists. But how about more experienced ecologists wanting to develop their skills further? Should we be offering you more opportunities to engage with Advanced Bat Survey Techniques? How confident are you at writing reports, surveying trees and using automatic species identification software?

Which skills would you like to develop further and where in the country would you like to see more training? Naomi is open to suggestions, and where possible, she will try to incorporate them into next year’s plans. And don’t forget, if it’s more convenient we can also offer in-house training, tailoring a course to your company and training needs! Email Naomi to find out more. 

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10. Bat Box Design Competition

Do you think you could design a bijou bat home suitable for a historic or listed building? Jonathan Rhind Architects has launched a competition to find the most inspired design for a heritage home for 50 bats. Deadline for entries is Monday 09 October, with winners to be announced on Monday 13 November. There is prize money of up to £250 and different age categories. Jo Ferguson, BCT’s Built Environment Officer, has been asked to be one of the judges! For more details about the competition and how to enter, please see the Jonathan Rhind website.

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11. Bat Research Papers & Reports

Please note we normally only include bat related articles, reports and blogs in this section where they are available to read online or to download without charge. Exceptionally we do include details of papers or other items where we think they will be of particular interest but where only abstracts or summary information is available, but we will include a note of that in the text about the article (the acoustic mirrors paper below is such a case). For more information about how to access journal papers see the BCT website.

  • Thermal video images of a brown long-eared bat roost – A video report! Ian Baker of Hampshire Bat Group has shared with us thermal imaging video that he took at a roost in Hampshire. The film was taken with the Merlin HD camera with 1/1000th second exposure and special noise suppression. Ian says “There is a lot of new science here and unanswered questions. I especially like the great poses of the hovering bats - almost artistic. I am very happy if you put the link and my email in your bulletin as it would be good to get feedback from bats experts.” So if you have any constructive feedback or questions for Ian please get in touch by email.
  • Acoustic mirrors as sensory traps for bats - this paper by Grief et al, investigating the impact that smooth vertical surface, such as large expanses of glass, may have on bats, received wide coverage in the media. Unfortunately the full paper isn’t open access but you can read the abstract online and it was covered by the BBC, New Scientist, and the Telegraph to list just three. Several bat groups were invited on to their local radio stations and/or newspapers to comment.

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12.  Key Dates for Your Diary

Watch this space for dates and reminders of conferences and other events you may be interested in. Please don’t forget you can get some extra publicity for your events by adding the details to the BCT BCT website.

BCT Events

  • 18 November – Scottish Bat Conference. Bookings are now open so for more information or to book your place please see the BCT web page for the event
  • 17 March 2018 – East of England Bat Conference. **SAVE THE DATE** More details of this event are to follow but if you have any suggestions for a location or content for the day please email Naomi Webster, BCT’s Training & Conferences Manager
  • 21 April 2018 – Midlands Bat Conference. **SAVE THE DATE** More details of this event are to follow but if you have any suggestions for a location or content for the day please email Naomi (details as above).

Other Event

  • 04-06 October – Southern Africa Bat Conference, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. Conference bookings will be opening shortly, but more information about the event, including a draft programme, can be found on the Bats without Borders website.
  • 17-19 October – World Parks Congress, Floral Pavilion Theatre and Conference Centre, New Brighton, Wirral. More details including ticket prices and booking links are available online.
  • 16-17 November – NBN Conference 2017, National Museum Cardiff. See NBN website for more information.

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