Bats & the law

In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.

This means you may be committing a criminal offence if you:

  • Deliberately take, injure or kill a wild bat.
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats.
  • Damage or destroy a place used by bats for breeding or resting (roosts) (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time).
  • Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat of a species found in the wild in the EU (dead or alive) or any part of a bat.
  • Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost.

Please refer to the legislation for the precise wording - the above is a brief summary only

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.

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

If you are concerned that someone is harming, or intending to harm bats or damage a roost, please follow the advice on this BCT page: