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Bat populations are recovering according to largest ever European study

30/01/2014 09:51:41

Daubenton's bat - one of the ones that showed an increase in numbers

January 2014: There is some good news for bats as a new report shows numbers have increased by more than 40 per cent between 1993 and 2011, after declining for many years.The report was carried out by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and 16 of the 45 bat species found across Europe were studied. Scientists compiled data gained from 6 000 hibernating sites across nine different countries and found overall these species appear to have increased by 43  per cent.


“It is extremely encouraging to see bat populations increasing after massive historic declines,” EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. “It suggests that targeted conservation policies over the last years have been successful. But many bat species are still endangered, so preserving their habitats is still an important priority. Monitoring bats also helps understand changes in wider ecosystems, including climate change, as they are highly sensitive to environmental change.”

 Intensifying agriculture, changes in land use, intentional killing and destruction of roosts had caused  European bat populations to decline significantly, particularly during the second half of the 20th century.. Additionally, they have been poisoned by timber‑treatment toxic chemicals such as dieldrin, used in roofs.However conservationists warn that they should still be treated as vulnerable because bats tend to be long‑lived animals with a slow rate of reproduction, so while decline can happen rapidly, recovery is slow and numbers will still be lower than before the decline.

The majority of the species showed an increase in numbers with three remaining stable, two species were uncertain and only the grey long-eared bat declined, albeit moderately.

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