Why are bats a protected species?
Bats have been a protected species for quite some time, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and the Conservation Regulations 1994. Under these acts, it is a criminal offence to:
Intentionally capture, injure or kill a bat
Disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)
Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
Obstruct access to a bat roost
But why are they protected?
There is considerable evidence that all bat species have declined over the last century and most significantly since the 1960s. There are several explanations for their rapid decrease in population:
Reduction of food source (insects) due to use of pesticides
Loss of suitable roosting sites
Loss of feeding habitats e.g. woodland
Use of highly toxic chemicals for treating timber in roosting sites
As bats return to the same roosts every year roosts are protected by the law whether they are inhabited at the time or not. If you are considering carrying out an action that could affect a roost, for example roof repairs, timber treatment, building renovation/demolition or removing branches from a mature tree, you must first notify your local planning authority.
Think you may have bats roosting in your property? Check out our blog on ‘5 signs you could have bats’. If you are concerned and would like to speak to a specialist, please feel free to get in touch here.