Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton Crown Court issues 'bat alert'

Southampton Crown Court and 'bat alert' notice
Image caption The notice thanks staff at the courthouse for their co-operation

A Hampshire courthouse has issued a "bat alert" following several confirmed sightings around its building.

The winged intruder has been flying between three floors above the waiting area of Southampton Crown Court.

A notice reads: "It is possible that the bat may come down on a chair or on the floor, although we are hoping it will leave of its own accord."

Nicky Abel, buildings and security manager, said no bat droppings had been found.

The bat, which has proved largely elusive, has been seen by about a dozen people, but not since Monday afternoon.

'Nearby roost'

Writing to staff, Ms Abel said: "Many of you will have seen a bat flying around the waiting area in the last couple of days.

"Please do not touch or approach the bat. They are a protected species.

"Officers have the correct instructions to deal with the safe containment of the bat without injuring it."

The species of the bat has not been identified.

Heather McFarlane, from the Bat Conservation Trust, said: "It could be there's a roost nearby. If infants are learning to fly they can get disorientated.

"Generally they don't pose a health risk. They're very clean, social creatures, who are unobtrusive and stay out of people's way

"The only thing they could pass on to humans is a rabies-type virus found in one species of bat in very low numbers. If you don't handle them they don't pose a risk.

"Bats can bite but don't generally unless they're feeling under threat."

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