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Bat Conservation TrustOur first Featured Charity: 2016.

   

Here you'll find all their articles, exclusively published by CJS.

Find out all about them on their website here.

 

BCT Introduction, published CJS Weekly 25 September 2015.

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only British charity solely devoted to the conservation of bats and it has been doing so since its creation in 1991. BCT works on multiple fronts to ensure a viable future for bats by working collaboratively with local, national and international organisations. Bats make up approximately 24% of all mammal species and yet most people are blissfully unaware of how important they are. In the UK we are lucky enough to have 18 resident species, 17 of which breed here. All UK species consume large numbers of insects every night and a few species will happily munch on spiders too furthermore bats make great indicators of the state of the wider environment. About 70% of bats species globally are insectivores but in tropical regions bats can play important roles as both pollinators and seed disperser

 

One of the greatest threats to bats is the widespread fear and lack of knowledge which is made all the more challenging to address when working with such an elusive group of mammals. All the teams at BCT work to increase awareness of bats whenever they can as do the local bat groups which are at the core of BCT.

 

One aspect of BCT’s work is the National Bat Monitoring Program (NBMP), which has been gathering data on a number of different bat species since 1997. The NBMP relies on thousands of volunteers up and down the UK who work tirelessly to collect data in order to examine population trends. Over the last few years we have seen some encouraging signs that some populations are stabilising or even beginning to recover from historical declines.

 

The National Bat Helpline (0345 1300 228) offers advice to members of the public who have discovered bats in their home as well as providing a critical link between members of the public who have found an injured, distressed or orphaned bat with the bat carers network made up of volunteers who tirelessly dedicate their time to helping bats back into the wild. What started with a single temporary summer officer has transformed into a full team of telephone operators as well as an Out of Hours service run by volunteers during the peak summer months. The Helpline also enables BCT to inform both professionals and the public on a range of issues. We encourage anyone with concerns or in need of advice to contact us on the helpline number 0345 1300 228.

 

Bats are European Protected Species (EPS) due to their decline and vulnerability across Europe; this means they require legal protection that covers individual bats and their roosts. Bat crime is the second most encountered wildlife crime following raptor persecution. Wildlife crime against bats, is often in the form of roost destruction and disturbance, which is not just devastating for the species directly affected at a local level but also for wider conservation efforts. BCT works to provide solutions to improve conservation action for bats and those acting to protect them. We also have an investigations officer who works closely with enforcement officials to make sure bat crime is dealt with appropriately.

 

We want more people to get involved in bat conservation. To find out how, do visit www.bats.org.uk


Second article from Bat Conservation Trust: first published in CJS Weekly Friday 4 December 2015

 

Bats are hibernating… but we are not

 

As you walk along the park or your street you have surely noticed that winter is here; trees are almost bare, you can’t see any house martins or swallows in the sky nor hear the piercing calls of swifts. Bat enthusiasts in particular miss not being able to watch bats during the twilight hours since they hibernate during the winter months.

 

Natterer’s bat hibernating at Highgate’s tunnels.

Natterer’s bat hibernating at Highgate’s tunnels.

Hibernation is an ingenious way for these small flying mammals to endure the cold winter. It allows them to lower their metabolism to save energy as flying insects are harder to find over the winter months. They have prepared for this moment in the autumn by eating as many insects as possible; this increased their fat reserves which they are now using as fuel to survive hibernation. During this torpor period, bats can lower their temperature to an amazing 2°C!

 

While bats are fast “asleep” the work at Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) does not stop. As they say “The show must go on!” And indeed it does. During winter, our National Bat Helpline still gets an average of 15 calls per day from concerned callers, mainly regarding bat care advice for grounded/injured bats, planning enquiries (i.e. people concerned that building works or infra-structure might affect a roost or bats) and enquiries about repairs and maintenance that could affect bats.

In addition BCT keeps monitoring bat populations during the winter months thanks to the efforts of volunteers contributing data to the Hibernation Survey as part of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP), which has been in place since 1997. In these surveys, experienced and appropriately licensed bat workers check and count bats in hibernation sites which typically consist of caves, mines and other underground structures such as cellars or ice houses. During the survey these dedicated citizen scientists thoroughly search for any bat species in crevices or open spaces along a standard route.
London Bat Group doing hibernation surveys at Highgate tunnels.
Last winter more than 120 volunteers submitted hibernation counts from around 500 sites. The data collected enables us to produce statistically robust species population trends for seven species that are widely recorded at hibernation sites. Other species are too rarely recorded to enable trends to be produced, either because they are very rare in the UK (the most extreme example being the UK’s only known greater mouse-eared bat that is found hibernating at the same site each year) or their hibernation locations are not yet known or are difficult to access (e.g. tree holes). Included in the latter category are common and soprano pipistrelles, our most commonly recorded species in the summer, but very elusive in the winter due to their tendency to hide themselves away in places that are inaccessible to people.

 

Hibernation surveyors also look for any signs of white-nose syndrome (WNS) which has killed millions of bats in the USA. While the fungus associated with WNS has been identified on a number of bats in Europe, these observations have not been linked to mass mortalities and therefore WNS has not been confirmed in Europe, but it is important to remain vigilant for any possible signs of WNS.

 

Hibernation surveys are an important element of the NBMP as they enable data to be collected on a wide range of species, usually with a high degree of confidence in species identification. Through the National Bat Monitoring Programme, BCT also runs a number of summer surveys that anyone can take part in and help us monitor how the UK’s bat populations are faring and inform conservation strategies.

For more information go to http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp.html .


Third article from Bat Conservation Trust: first published in CJS Weekly Friday 5 February 2016

 

National Bat Monitoring Programme – a volunteer based project

 

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) relies on and encourages the involvement of the public in bat conservation. Volunteers are, indeed, at the very heart of bat conservation in the UK - without their dedication and support much of our work would not be possible. BCT is very fortunate to have the help and support of over 2000 volunteers!

The National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) is a great example of a volunteer-based “citizen science” project. The NBMP monitors bat populations in the UK by carrying out an array of surveys, carefully designed so that anybody can take part in monitoring these fascinating but easily overlooked mammals. These surveys are all carried out by dedicated volunteers who collect data on a wide range of species, thus contributing to our knowledge of how bat populations in the UK are faring year after year.

As well as being of great value to bat conservation, the surveys are fun and rewarding to carry out! The NBMP runs different surveys which cater to different levels of experience and knowledge.

  

Beginners might want to start with theBeginners might want to start with the Sunset/Sunrise Survey or Roost Count. The former does not require any previous bat surveying experience as it entails watching out for bats as they fly by either at sunset or sunrise and looking for swarming activity, an often spectacular sight which might indicate the location of a roost. To participate in the Roost Count you would need to know the location of a roost and count bats as they emerge at dusk.

If you already have some experience in surveying bats, particularly on how to use a bat detector and identifying common British bat species with it, there are more advanced surveys you can participate in. The Field Survey entails surveying a pre-determined route with a heterodyne (tuneable) bat detector and listening out for noctule, serotine, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle. You should not survey alone so will need one or more friends or family to tag along. The Waterway Survey is quite similar to the Field Survey but is simpler as you are just looking for one species, Daubenton’s bat, which mainly feeds on insects low over the water surface. You would walk along a set stretch of waterway and in addition to a heterodyne bat detector you would only need a torch to spot the bats skimming the water surface for insects! It is equally important to monitor bat populations during their hibernation period, which is why the NBMP also includes Hibernation Surveys which are carried out by volunteers who are licensed to monitor hibernating bats.  You can read about hibernation surveys in more detail in the article published in previous issue (here).

 

If you are looking for volunteering opportunities and want to be a part of bat conservation sign up for one of our surveys! You can read about each survey in more detail and find which is the best one for you here: http://nbmp.bats.org.uk/Surveys.aspx.


Fourth article from Bat Conservation Trust: first published in CJS Weekly Friday 5 August 2016

 

The National Bat Helpline

A young bat (either a noctule or a Leisler’s bat)

that was found by a member of the public, who

rang the helpline. The pup was given care and

remained healthy.

© Nigel Foster/Bat Conservation Trust.

The National Bat Helpline (0345 1300 228) is a service managed by the Bat Conservation Trust to advise members of the public on a variety of issues, for example if they’ve found an injured bat, need to repair a roof on a house with a bat roost, or simply want to know more information about the bats they saw flying in their garden.. This is crucial work that helps to protect the 18 species resident in the UK, which account for 24% of the UK’s mammal species; meaning that 1 out of 5 mammal species in the UK is a bat. Some of the UK’s bat species are extremely rare, but even the more common species can find themselves in need of help. The Helpline began in 1991 with a single temporary summer officer and now has a full team of telephone operators as well as an out-of-hours service during the peak summer months. This means that the Helpline is open from 8am until 10.30pm every day in the summer. Bat conservationists as far away as Romania have used our Helpline as a base for their own strategies. The Helpline was even name dropped in Parliament in 2014!

 

Helpline Officer at work © Bat Conservation Trust

Many members of the public also have their first form of contact with BCT via the Helpline. People may call the helpline if they have found an injured, grounded or orphaned bat how they can help and to put them in contact with trained local volunteer bat. In 2015 over half of the calls we received were about bats that required assistance, many of which were regarding baby bats (called pups) that had been found on their own. In a year the Helpline receives over 12,000 calls a year, while our out-of-hours service answers a further 2,800. This translates into us helping over 300 bats a week in the peak summer months!

 

Some of the more amusing calls that we received in 2015 include a bat being found hibernating in a jug on a kitchen shelf in Yorkshire and a local bat volunteer hearing reports of a fruit bat hanging from a tree in South London, only for them to investigate and find that it was actually a carefully positioned plastic toy!

 

The Helpline is a valuable service, not just to those who call us, but also as a way to inform both professionals and the public on a range of issues. If you would like to ensure our work can continue, please visit our JustGiving page and donate to our appeal (www.justgiving.com/bats). More information on all of the BCT’s work can be found at our website (http://www.bats.org.uk/).

Article by Angharad Hopkinson, BCT communications intern.

 


Final article from Bat Conservation Trust: first published in CJS Professional Thursday 10 November 2016

 

Why bats matter 

There are over 1300 species of bats in the world and they live in every continent apart from Antarctica. Despite the fact that bats make up approximately one in every four mammal species globally and are the second largest order of mammals (the first one being rodents), they are still one of the most misunderstood and undervalued animals on earth. Bats are so unpopular that in a UK poll conducted by OnePoll in 2015, they were voted the third least favourite mammal after rats and mice!

That same poll also showed the five top reasons why people disliked bats. These ranged from simply being scared of them to thinking they get tangled in your hair and/or are vermin. This research has shed some light on the widespread misconceptions and lack of knowledge associated with these animals. It seems that almost 2 out of 5 people surveyed still believe that bats are blind and 62% think there are fewer than 100 species of bats worldwide. Furthermore 60% of young adults (16-24) say they are scared of bats and 53% didn’t know that bats are protected in the UK.

Bats are not blind, all 18 species of UK bats see as well as humans do but since they are nocturnal animals relying on sight is extremely inefficient. That is why they navigate through the night sky using the remarkably accurate echolocation, a sonar like system similar to the one cetaceans (Whales and dolphins) use underwater; so no, they will not get tangled in your hair although they will wiz close to you as they hunt insects attracted by the heat of your body. Some bats in other parts of the world are active during the day and rely on vision; so much so they don’t even use echolocation.

Brown long-eared bat with mothBats could not be further from vermin! They are incredibly useful and provide a number of ecosystem services that benefit us. In fact recent estimates indicate that insectivorous bats save corn farmers around the world a remarkable $1 billion a year in prevented crop damage. In tropical countries some species also play important roles as pollinators and seed dispersers of economically valuable plants such as agave, bananas, peaches, cloves, balsa, peppercorn and other.

Brown long-eared bat with moth

Bats are also increasingly important for medical advances that help people. The saliva of vampire bats contains a substance that acts as an anti-coagulant which keeps the blood of its prey flowing while it feeds. This substance is called draculin and is being used in medicine as a treatment for strokes and heart attacks. Bats are very long-lived mammals relative to their body size, using more energy and living for longer than other mammals of a similar size. We know some bat species can live for 40 years or longer. Researchers have been studying bat’s DNA as they believe it could help understand age-related diseases.

Whether you love them or not, it is undeniable that bats are incredibly interesting and useful. I have only touched on a few of the reasons why bats matter and why you should help them in any way you can. This is easier than you think:

Next time you look up at the night sky and see a bat doing aerial acrobatics as it chases flying insects, I hope you will stop and watch with fascination at the wonder of these amazing furry flying friends.

 

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