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

Logo: Bat Conservation Trust

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.
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
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.

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