Bats & the law

In Britain, bats and their roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and in England and Wales the CRoW Act 2000.

There are three main areas of protection which means it is illegal to:

  •  Recklessly kill or injure any bat
  •  Disturb a bat at roost
  •  Damage a roost site or obstruct the entrance

It is not illegal though, to remove bats from the living area of a house or to rescue injured or abandoned bats as they may be released when recovered.

If bats are unwelcome or should any work be planned anywhere suspected of housing bats, Natural England must be consulted. Work will not necessarily be prevented, but advice will be given on the least disturbing way of doing it.

"Bat Mitigation Guidelines" (pdf, 1.3Mb).
This document gives generic technical advice on assessing impacts and developing mitigation plans. These guidelines have been developed to assist those involved with land-use planning and development operations (in the widest sense) where bats are known or suspected to occur.

Bats in Churches: a management guide (pdf, 84Kb).
This leaflet is to help those who look after church buildings that are used by bats to understand their legal obligations. It will be of help to architects, surveyors, local authority conservation officers, ecologists and Natural England and English Heritage staff and volunteers.

There is a new report out entitled "Bat Related Crime" (920Kb, pdf) covering the period from July 2004 to April 2007 published by the BCT.

If you live in Wales, contact Natural Resources Wales, or Scottish Natural Heritage for Scotland.

Operation Bat
The police launched Operation Bat on 30 June 2004, as the next stage in their initiative to link enforcement activity more closely with Government conservation objectives. It provides a standard operating procedure for the police to deal with bat-related offences, and assist in preventing bat crime.

If you know about any court cases about bats then the BCT would be glad to hear from you. With the help of the RSPB they have set up a Species Protection Database. This helps them to collate data for the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension and prosecution of offenders. Your information will help to indicate the level of the problem and, if necessary, prove that more resources are needed to uphold the law. The BCT, with support from the RSPB Investigations Unit, is also helping police investigate a number of suspected cases.