Respect Bats to Avoid Hefty Fines and Sentences

Toolbox Talk

1st May 2019 | Marcus

Bats – European Protected Species

All bats in the UK are listed as European Protected Species. The legislation varies slightly across the British Isles, so you should refer to your regional legislation for the precise wording.

Bats and trees

It is important when working in the tree surgery industry to understand what to look out for when it comes to bats in trees, including developing a knowledge of their roosting habits throughout the year and the reasons that they may be in and around trees. Bats in the UK have many uses for trees; including using tree structures for roosting, using trees and hedgerows as highways between their roots and foraging locations and as a source of food. All bats in the UK feed on insects, and trees can support an abundance of these.

How do bats utilise trees?

Something that indicates a bat’s presence is a ‘potential roost feature’ (PRF). Bats can be found in many areas of a tree and knowing what to look out for is vital when considering tree removal or other tree work.

Features of a tree that may indicate a Potential Bat Roost:

  • Roosting behind the loose bark on a mature tree stem
  • Roosting in Woodpecker holes
  • Roosting in split branches and cracks
  • Roosting in cavities
  • Roosting behind dense ivy
  • Winter hibernation can occur in hollow trunks of trees if the location is frost-free

Please note: you must be trained and qualified to go near to or actively search for bats. However, we can assess a tree and look for Potential Roost Features. If evidence suggests that there may be a bat or bats inside a PRF, then work must stop, and a qualified bat surveyor should investigate the roost feature further.

A one-day bat awareness course is affordable, informative and will greatly increase your ability to identify bat roost features before undertaking any tree surgery.

How does the law protect bats?

The relevant legislation regarding bats in England & Wales is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010 (as amended).

It is an offence for any person to:

  • Intentionally kill, injure, or take a bat.
  • Possess or control a live or dead bat, any part of a bat, or anything derived from a bat. The responsibility lies with the person in possession of the bat to show that they have the bat lawfully. An offence is not committed if the person can show that the bat was not killed, taken or sold to them or anyone else illegally.
  • Intentionally damage, obstruct or destroy any access to any place or structure that is used by bats as a roost, for shelter or protection. This is taken to mean all bat roosts, whether bats are present or not.
  • Intentionally disturb a place or structure that is being used by bats as a roost, for shelter or protection.
  • Set articles intended for killing, injuring or capturing a bat such as a trap or poison.
  • Sell bats or put them on display for sale.

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