Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Grey Long-eared Bat

Plecotus austriacus

Females have
pup a year
Only
maternity colonies left in England
Only about
bats left in the UK

What is a Grey Long-eared Bat?

These enchanting little creatures are among the UK’s rarest mammals. They are intelligent animals which hunt for moths and other insects by night over wildflower meadows along the south coast of England. They are long-lived and social, the females giving birth to their single babies in maternity roosts. But there could be as few as 1,000 of these bats left, and we know their numbers are still falling.

Why are they in trouble?

The kind of grassland these bats need has been lost from most of our countryside in the last century, and the elements they require in the landscape have become more fragmented. This makes it more difficult for them to find safe routes between their roosts and the places where they can find food, and so, they are struggling to survive.

How have we helped the Grey Long-eared Bat

This Back from the Brink project, was led by the Bat Conservation Trust. We worked with landowners to discover how to retain and enhance the precious habitats that the bats need.

During the period of the project we have:

  • Enhanced foraging habitat on over 80 hectares of land through grey long-eared bat range in Devon.
  • Increased awareness of the species on over 200 landholdings
  • Improved monitoring to establish long-term population trends

We also worked alongside the local communities. We have:

  • Provided over 60 events for the wider community
  • Trained or engaged over 80 volunteers in species monitoring, data analysis and leading bat walks

Did we achieve what we were aiming for?

I’m delighted to say that we did! We have raised awareness and understanding of grey long-eared bats and their needs and ensured that the habitats around their roosts are improving to support where they feed. We have also helped to improve the habitats between roosts so the colonies can be connected.

Is that the end?

This species is an indicator of the health of these landscapes and we need to continue to work to support this very vulnerable and special species to ensure it continues to grace our countryside and communities into the future.

Currently there is a follow-on project underway in East Devon and Dorset and details can be found here. This project will end in early 2022.

Beyond that do find out more about Back from the Brink's Grey Long-eared bat project on the Bat Conservation Trust website including species specific guidance.

If you are interested in bats and helping with their conservation you can also contact the Devon Bat group or Dorset Bat Group or check here for finding other bat groups in your area.

 

GLEB - credited 1024
A grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus) emerges from its roost in a barn in Devon, England to hunt on a summer night. This photograph was taken as part of the Back from the Brink project and was taken ethically using red light fliters to avoid disturbance to the bats. The grey long-eared bat is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN and is Britain’s rarest breeding bat.
Grey long-eared bat - Daniel Hargreaves (imaged already credited)
Grey Long-eared Bat Flickr Jan Svetlik (CC BY-NC-ND-2.0) 1024

Project contact

enquiries@bats.org.uk

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We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

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