England is losing its meadows and marshes, impacting Long-eared bats
Experts are warning that Britain's gray long-eared bats are facing extinction because of the loss of the UK’s marshlands. What’s more, this may be just one casualty of increasing habitat loss.
Britain's Bat Conservation Trust, in a new publication called Conserving Grey Long-Eared Bats in our Landscape, has warned that there may be as few as 1,000 gray long-eared bats left in the UK because of the "dramatic decline" of their habitats.
The gray long-eared bats, already considered one of Britain's rarest of species, are generally to be found hunting for food, usually moths, in lowland meadows and marshlands. Their distribution is primarily confined along the south of the British Isles in places like Sussex, Devon, Somerset, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.
However, changes to land management and farming practices have meant these habitats are virtually all gone.
In particular, the loss of barns has been a particular cause for concern. While the grey long-eared bat had once lived life as cave dwellers, barns provided a sufficient substitute in which to take up residence and exploit nearby meadows.
Now, agricultural policies have seen many barns torn down to make way for more farming land for crops that are no longer stored onsite, meaning the bats have both fewer roosting and foraging sites, leading to a severe loss of maternal colonies. In fact, the Bat Conservation Trust estimates there are as few as eight confirmed active maternity colonies in England and only several known temporary roosts.
All bat species in the UK are legally protected, according to the Bat Conservation Trust, and this protection spans both domestic and international legislation. However, the Trust warns that much more needs to be done if we are to preserve Britain’s gray long-eared bat colonies.
Grey Long-Eared Bat image via Shutterstock.
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