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Bat ringing in the UK

We are lucky enough to have 18 species of bats in the UK, all of which need our help. Putting uniquely numbered rings on wild bats to identify individuals is a long established technique associated with important bat research and monitoring.

The problem

For a long time bat ringing was carried out by a small number of bat specialists. However, in recent years it has become more widely used by academics, bat workers and bat groups and a small number of consultants involved in long term research projects. Despite this increase in use of the technique, we do not yet have a centralised database for keeping bat ringing records. And there are no specific UK-wide guidelines on ringing techniques and best practice.

Over 4,000 bat rings are sold per annum in the UK but there is no national dataset of ringed bats.

The solution

Developing a national database for keeping centralised bat ringing records will result in a large amount of data that can be used to learn many things.

We will be better able to understand the structure and dynamics of bat populations and it will help us improve our understanding of the impact of threats to bats. It can also be used assess any potential impacts of ringing studies overall on bat welfare and minimise any impact through best practice guidance.

The first phase of delivering this is to reach a consensus amongst bat ringers on the content of the ringing guidelines and database. This will be achieved by inviting the UK’s experienced bat ringers, licensing bodies, and others involved with ringing projects, to answer a questionnaire and a attend a one-day workshop .

The next phases will focus on developing the guidelines and a centralised database based once a way forward has been agreed.

Together we are working towards a better understanding of our threatened bats.

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