Scotland is getting its first reserve dedicated specifically for the conservation of bats, The Scotsman newspaper of Edinburgh reports. The new reserve, launched by the National Trust for Scotland to protect bats and educate the public about them, is located at the Threave Estate.
The National Trust, a conservation charity, said it hopes the reserve will become a center of learning and research for bats. Threave provides habitat for seven species of bats, more than any other site in Scotland, reporter Martyn McLaughlin wrote. The bats include the rare Eurasian whiskered myotis.
Bats, protected in the United Kingdom, have been in serious decline for the past century, the newspaper said, but some species may be starting to recover. The United Kingdom’s Bat Conservation Trust reports overall numbers have been “relatively stable” during the past decade.
“A lot of work by a lot of people has gone into establishing this exciting new reserve,” the trust’s nature conservation officer, Lindsay Mackinlay, told The Scotsman. “We would invite folk to come down, open their minds and be amazed by these quite extraordinary, yet badly understood, animals.”
Dick Balharry, National Trust’s interim chairman, said, “The reserve will help protect bats and their habitats for the future, enabling us to educate others in the care and protection of these fascinating creatures.” He said bats are found on more than three-fourths of the trust’s properties throughout Scotland.
McLaughlin says visitors to the reserve can walk a bat trail to learn about bats and where they roost at the sprawling country estate. And a special ‘bat mobile’ will tour the property and its bat habitats.
Mackinlay told the BBC that the reserve offers a near-perfect site for the diverse bat populations. “Its buildings and woodlands provide plenty of roosting spots and its beautiful gardens, rich meadows and wetlands mean an abundance of insects for bats to feed on.”
Chris Miles, area manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, which is supporting the reserve, said, “We hope that what the trust has done at Threave will encourage others to think positively about living with bats.”