National Trust opens first bat reserve

Pipistrelle bat There are seven species at Threave Estate, including the pipistrelle bat

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Scotland's first ever dedicated bat reserve is opening in Dumfries and Galloway.

The reserve is being launched by the National Trust for Scotland at Threave Estate near Castle Douglas.

The conservation charity said it hoped the property would become a centre of learning and research and raise public awareness about the flying mammals.

Threave is home to seven species of the nocturnal animal, including the rare whiskered bat.

The charity's interim chairman, Dick Balharry, said the National Trust for Scotland had built up considerable expertise in bat conservation as more than three-quarters of its properties were home to bats.

He added: "The Threave Bat Reserve - Scotland's first ever dedicated 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."

Pipistrelle bat Bats and their roosts are protected by law in the UK

Both bats and their roosts are protected by law in the UK.

Over the past century, bat populations have suffered serious decline but conservationists say there are signs that some species' numbers are now starting to stabilise and recover.

Visitors to Threave will be able to take part in a "bat trail" and learn more about where the flying mammals roost at the property. They will also have the opportunity to learn bat-detecting skills.

Nature conservation officer Lindsay Mackinlay said: "Threave is the perfect spot for Scotland's first bat reserve.

"Home to a diverse bat population, its buildings and woodland provide plenty of roosting spots and its beautiful gardens, rich meadows and wetlands mean an abundance of insects for bats to feed on."

The reserve is being supported by Scottish Natural Heritage.

For the past few years, the National Trust for Scotland has been conducting a survey of bats at all 130 of its properties.

It expects to complete that process by the end of 2013.

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