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  • Bat Conservation

    Many bat species declined dramatically during the later half of the 20th Century and some species are now quite rare and have restricted ranges. Much of this decline has been caused by the destruction of roost sites and habitat loss. There are many ways where we can help bats:

    crags boxes rcp2

    Roost Protection
    All bat roosts are protected by law (see below).  Many roosts are damaged during building works, sometimes seemingly minor repairs, such as repointing a ridge tile, may prevent bats from using a roost which they may have used for many years. If works are planned on buildings where roosts are known, please contact Natural England (see links) before proceeding.

    Roost Creation
    Carefully sited bat boxes can provide good roost sites. The bat group has for many years monitored bat boxes in the Sherwood Forest area.  These boxes provide roost sites for pipistrelles, noctule bats and Leisler's bats. The Leisler's bat is quite scarce in Nottinghamshire but these boxes are very well used by them.

    Protection of winter hibernation sites
    Bats are extremely vulnerable to disturbance during the winter when they are hibernating. Repeated human disturbance causes bats to use up valuable body resources and may result in them failing to survive the winter. Some structures used by bats in winter are inaccessable to humans but others have open access and are vulnerable to disturbance and vandalism. The bat group monitors an artifical bat hibernaculum in Rushcliffe County Park which is used by brown long-eared bats.

    Bats and the Law

    All bats in Britain are now protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). In England and Wales the Act has been amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  All bats are also included in Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Put together these regulations mean:

    It is an offence for any person to:

    Intentionally kill, injure or take a bat. Under the Habitats Regulations it is an offence to deliberately capture or kill a bat.

    Possess or control a live or dead bat, any part of a bat, or anything derived from a bat. This is an offence of strict liability, in other words the onus of proof is on the person in possession of the bat to show, on a balance of probabilities, that they have it lawfully. An offence is not committed if the bat was not killed, taken, or sold to them or anyone else illegally.

    Intentionally or recklessly* damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place that a bat uses for shelter or protection (*reckless applies in England and Wales only). This is taken to mean all bat roosts whether bats are present or not. There is a defence that this is not illegal in a dwelling house, but the defence can only be relied on (other than in the living area of a dwelling house) if the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), i.e. Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales, or Scottish Natural Heritage was notified about the proposed action and allowed reasonable time to advise as to whether it should be carried out, and if so, how. Under the Habitats Regulations it is an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of any bat. This is an absolute offence - in other words, intent or recklessness does not have to be proved.

    Intentionally or recklessly* disturb a bat while it is occupying a structure or place that it uses for shelter or protection (*reckless applies in England and Wales only). There is a defence that this is not illegal in a dwelling house, but the defence can only be relied on (other than in the living area of a dwelling house) if the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), ie Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales, or Scottish Natural Heritage was notified about the proposed action and allowed reasonable time to advise as to whether it should be carried out, and if so, how. Under the Habitats Regulations it is an offence to deliberately disturb a bat (this applies anywhere, not just at its roost).

    Sell, offer or expose for sale, or possess or transport for the purpose of sale, any live or dead bat, any part of a bat, or anything derived from a bat. It is also an offence to publish, or cause to be published, any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that they buy or sell, or intend to buy or sell, any live or dead bat, part of a bat or anything derived from a bat. Sale includes hire, barter and exchange.

    Set and use articles capable of catching, injuring or killing a bat (for example a trap or poison), or knowingly cause or permit such an action. This includes sticky traps intended for animals other than bats.

    Make a false statement in order to obtain a licence for bat work.

    Possess articles capable of being used to commit an offence, or to attempt to commit an offence. These are punishable in a like manner as for the actual offence.

    It is not illegal:

    To take a disabled bat for the sole purpose of tending it and releasing it when no longer disabled, as long as that person can show that it was not disabled unlawfully by them.

    To kill a bat, as long as that person can show that the bat was so seriously disabled, other than by their own unlawful act, that there was no reasonable chance of it recovering.

    If the otherwise illegal act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided. However this defence can only be relied on (other than in the living area of a dwelling house) if the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), i.e. Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales, or Scottish Natural Heritage was notified about the proposed action and allowed reasonable time to advise as to whether it should be carried out, and if so, how.