Drop in bat numbers has conservationists worried

A WORRYING drop in the number of bats has been recorded in Britain, conservationists say.

Fewer of the protected creatures were counted last year compared with the year before, according to the latest figures from the National Bat Monitoring Programme.

Now it is feared the population could be hit further by food shortages due to a decline in insect numbers and a delayed breeding season due to the late and cold start to this summer.

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Dr Kate Barlow, head of monitoring at the Bat Conservation Trust, said the outlook did not look promising.

“Bats are long-lived for small mammals, some species routinely live up to 20 years,” she said.

“All our bats produce only one baby a year – twins are very rare – so a few years of bad weather could have dramatic impact on numbers of bats if they are
 unable to find enough food
to allow them to breed successfully.”

Volunteers counted bats at 704 summer roosts in 2012. Numbers of six out of seven species were down year-on-year. Activity levels and roost counts were also down on 2011 numbers for most species monitored.

The organisation is calling for volunteers to help count bats this summer. For more information, visit www.bats.org.yk/nbmp.