27th August 2008

Thousands to Celebrate European Bat Weekend - 30-31 August

Thousands of people across the UK will be busy during the weekend of 31-31 August enjoying a host of special batty events taking place to celebrate European Bat Weekend.

The celebratory weekend is being organised by the Bat Conservation Trust, with support from Defra, in an effort to help people understand more about these amazing, but often misunderstood, mammals.

In the UK, our 17 species of bats and their roosts are protected by law as a result of a rapid decline in numbers during the last century. Development, modern agriculture, pesticides and public misconceptions have all contributed to their decline. Bats make up almost a third of mammal species in the UK and are indicators of a healthy environment.

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "The importance of bats as a species group and as an indicator of the health of the rest of our wildlife is not always recognised, which is why the Bat Conservation Trust's work to raise the profile of these unique animals is so valuable."

Amy Coyte, Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust, said: "Bats are fascinating animals which are sadly under threat in the UK, largely due to the destruction of habitats and loss of roosts. European Bat Weekend is an ideal way for people to learn more about the problems facing bats, and to find out how they can help."

Dozens of bat walks and talks have been arranged by local Bat Groups, Wildlife Trusts, countryside rangers and other organisations up and down the country to bring people a little closer to bats and to celebrate the contribution bats make to biodiversity in the UK.

Amy Coyte said: "Bat walks offer people a truly magical way of seeing and hearing bats in their natural environment. The Bat Conservation Trust is happy to be able to share this experience with so many people."

Those taking part in the bat walks will be using devices called 'bat detectors' which enable people to hear bats as they fly by. Bats use a sonar sense called echolocation to find their way around at night. With bat detectors, we can tune into the sounds they make and determine what species of bat are present.

European Bat Weekend was born out of a European-wide celebration of bats held every August, called European Bat Night (this year taking place on 30 August), under the Eurobats Agreement.

The Bat Conservation Trust has developed an interactive events guide for European Bat Weekend. To find a batty event in your area, visit our events page.

Information on European events can be found at http://www.eurobats.org/

For further information, photographs or to arrange an interview, contact:Neil YoungTel: 0207 501 3635 E: nyoung@bats.org.uk