3rd October 2007

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is urging the building sector to be vigilant in protecting bats and their roosts, following the successful prosecution of the owner of a Carmarthen demolition company - the first in a number of years (further details of the case from the Countryside Council for Wales).

Alison Rasey, investigations officer at BCT, said: "Crimes against bats and their roosts are incredibly damaging to the conservation of bats in the UK. The destruction of just one bat roost can lead to the loss of hundreds of bats, which can take many years to recover."

"We would always much rather prevent damaging incidents from happening in the first place and so education will always be our first choice in protecting bats and their roosts. However, sadly, there are cases where pursuing prosecutions is considered necessary to safeguard bat conservation. Sometimes only the reality of prosecution will encourage people to keep within the law."

BCT's latest Bat Crime report, released in May, reveals that more than 210 bat-related crime incidents have been reported to the charity in the past three years; of those, more than 170 constitute incidents that BCT fears will have had an impact on bats or their roosts. The building development and maintenance sector still accounts for a worrying 67% of these incidents - the same proportion as reported in 2003's Bat Crime report.

BCT fears the actual number of crimes against bats is far higher than the figures suggest.

Ms Rasey said: "The number of bat related crime incidents reported to BCT is just a drop in the ocean. We estimate that hundreds more incidents go unreported every year."

"We will continue working closely with the police, SNCOs and bat experts to ensure that any prosecutions pursued are in the interest of both bat conservation and the public."

For further information: Jaime Eastham Bat Conservation Trust T: 0207 501 3635