23rd November 2010

Combating Bat Crime

The Bat Conservation Trust has today released its annual statistics on Bat Crime showing a doubling of incidents reported to BCT in 2009.

Despite legislation being in place to protect bats and their roosts since 1981, bats continue to suffer persecution, disturbance and cruel treatment with detrimental impacts on UK bat conservation. The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) investigates bat crimes and the results of these investigations are the focus of Bat Crime Annual Report. Download full report.

In 2009 127 incidents of bat crime were investigated by BCT, doubling the number or incidents reported in previous years. Although there has been a steep rise in incidents reported it is believed that these incidents are a small fraction of bat crimes occurring. Bat persecution can be deliberate or reckless, e.g. continuing roofing work when bats are found, or persecution may be the result of a lack of awareness of bats and the places they live in, such as when bats are entombed in walls while re-pointing stonework. Typical persecutions that bats face are; injury or death caused by working on buildings or trees while bats are present; loss of roosts caused by felling trees, demolition or changes to buildings; loss of dark places to fly caused by street lighting or floodlighting of bridges or buildings: disturbance bats are particularly susceptible now during hibernation and females bats are vulnerable while pregnant or looking after young bats. Disturbance at a maternity roost can result in all the young being abandoned and starving to death (if they are too heavy for their mother to carry them). As each bat mother typically has only one pup a year bat populations may never recover from these losses. Bat roosts are protected to give bats safe places to shelter, however the vast majority of crimes take place at the roost with 85% of crimes relating to building and development.

BCT is working with the Police's National Wildlife Crime Unit, bat groups, bat workers, conservation organisations, and the public to combat bat persecution. Further research will be conducted into bat crime in the forthcoming Bat Crime Review to be published in 2011. Currently BCT is appealing to the public for support in increasing awareness and appreciation of bats to prevent bat persecution. The work will challenge misconceptions, stressing the importance, beauty and fragility of bats in the UK by educating people with targeted events, communications and through the media to ensure that bats and their roosts are never inadvertently put at risk, allowing the Bat Conservation Trust to prevent crimes as well as investigate them.

If you would like to support the Bat Conservation Trust's campaign to prevent bat persecution you can donate or call 0845 1300 228.

BCT would like to thank all of the Bat Groups for continuing to help fund the Investigations Project. This project would not be possible without their generous support.