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A bad year for bats? Have you bats on your smallholding?
4:16pm Thursday 5th July 2012 in News
The cold, wet and windy spring and summer has batworkers concerned that 2012 will be a difficult year for struggling bat populations. The Bat Conservation Trust’s Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) has seen a marked increase in reports of grounded bats, while the number of calls about baby bats and bat maternity roosts has declined. The Bat Conservation Trust is appealing for donations to support the Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) and its vital bat conservation work.
In May 2012, the Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) saw a 50% increase in calls relating to bat care. Bats found on the ground are often injured or too weak to fly and are vulnerable to predation and exposure. Bats can be weakened by a lack of insect prey and bad hunting conditions. Poor weather means there are few insects flying for bats to feed on, while rain and wind make hunting difficult and the cold can exhaust bats even further. The Bat Conservation Trust is also concerned about the low number of calls to the Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) about baby bats and maternity roosts. Female bats usually form maternity roosts in May and each mother normally gives birth to a single baby (or pup) in June. But this year maternity roosts have been late in forming, while some remain empty. Bat Helpline manager Amanda Adebisi explains: “In the years I’ve worked on the Bat Helpline, I’ve never known a season like 2012. Usually we’re inundated with calls about baby bats the moment we hit June, but so far we’ve only had twenty baby bat reports – and they were about a month later than normal. If maternity roosts form late, the mothers have hardly any time to feed and raise their babies before autumn. If there are no maternity roosts, there won’t be any baby bats.”
The Bat Conservation Trust now has reports of a small number of maternity roosts. However, there are concerns that poor weather and bad hunting conditions – on top of the many long-standing environmental pressures faced by bat populations – could mean that babies and mothers will struggle to survive.
The Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) provides a unique and vital service, and is currently responding to over 100 calls a day. By answering a single call, a Bat Helpline Officer can help save a bat or even an entire roost. Bat Helpline Officers can help a caller safely move a grounded bat out of the view of predators, or in more serious cases arrange for a trained volunteer Bat Carer to rehabilate and release adult and baby bats.