Expert leads an appeal to save endangered grey long-eared bats found in Hampshire (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Expert leads an appeal to save endangered grey long-eared bats found in Hampshire
HAMPSHIRE is one of the last refuges of a rare species of bat on the verge of extinction.
Research has revealed that there are just 1,000 grey long-eared bats remaining in the UK — and they can only be found in six counties across the UK, including Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The bats’ roosts are usually found in buildings like farm barns and lofts and, according to Dr Orly Razgour, who led the research at the University of Bristol, its decline is linked to the decreasing numbers of lowland meadows and marshlands — its main foraging habitats.
Now she is calling for more to be done to restore these areas to help save the species.
She said: "We are calling for landscape-scale conservation management for the grey long-eared bat – not only protecting their roosts, but their feeding habitats around roosts and increasing connectivity betw-een isolated roosts.
"These bats rely on lowland meadows and marshlands, woody riparian vegetation and well-developed hedgerows, so increasing the availability of these habitat types will be beneficial for the conservation of the grey long-eared bat."
Although there is not an estimation of the Hampshire population of these bats, there are records of small roosts across the county.
Erika Dahlberg, a consultant for Winchester Bat Consultancy, has been searching for the elusive grey long-eared bat in Hampshire for two years.
Despite two bats found near Beaulieu, with one being found just two years ago, she has not yet found a roost in the county.
She said: “This is my favourite species of bat.
“They are incredibly beautiful when you see them up close.
“They have large brown eyes and delicate smiley mouths — it would be tragic if they were to end up extinct.”
To get involved with the grey long-eared bat conservation project, visit the website bats.org.uk or call 0845 1300 228.
Grey long-eared bat key facts:
- Scientific name: Plecotus austriacus
- Appearance: Grey fur, with a brown tinge
- Average weight: seven to 12 kg
- Body length: 55mm
- Diet: Moths, butterflies, lacewings, craneflies, and beetles
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