4th August 2009

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is urging people to don their deerstalker hats and pipes to become a bat detective this summer. The Big Bat Map has been launched by the Count Bat Project, part of BCT, to provide an interactive way for people to get help with bat conservation on a local level; looking to the skies on an evening to detect bats.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which gave a grant of £596,000, City of London's City Bridge Trust and Natural England, the web-based map of bat activity found on the BCT website, www.bats.org.uk/bigbatmap, allows users to record sightings of bats flying in their area and view where they have been seen all over the country and near where they live.

Chris Packham, President of BCT said: "We want people to check the skies for bats as they close their curtains on summer evenings or as they are giving the dog its evening walk in the park. If they see any bats then they can let us know by adding their sightings to our new Big Bat Map.

"Over the last 60 years many of our bat species have declined dramatically. The Big Bat Map is an easy way for people to get involved in helping conserve these wonderful unique creatures, in many cases they won't even need to leave their living rooms."

There are 17 species of bats in the UK, many of which regularly live close to people, occasionally roosting in houses and feeding over our parks and gardens - even in towns.

Tom Tew, Chief Scientist of Natural England, said: "Parks and gardens provide unique opportunities to view bats in their natural habitat allowing people to connect to, and enjoy wildlife, in their local environment.

"By helping map where bats are being seen, The Big Bat Map will help to secure the future of our bats. Bats are important indicators of the health of our natural environment and through the Big Bat Map we have the opportunity to work together to ensure these unique mammals are around for generations to come."