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Management of Bats in Churches – a pilot

Front cover for Management of bats in churches

Project Report - Research Project: 6199

By Dr Charlotte Packman, Dr Matt Zeale, Professor Stephen Harris, Professor Gareth Jones

A significant proportion of medieval churches are home to bats. A minority host important maternity roosts. Large numbers of bats can disrupt the human use of the building and can damage objects of religious and historic value. However, bats are a protected species and management options have to take that fact into consideration.

This pilot project therefore looked at effective management options for bats in historic churches that do not impact significantly on the protected bat populations. The project built on previous research that had been funded by Defra.

Key research findings of the new study were:

  1. Acoustic deterrents were an effective tool in reducing the impact of Natterer's bats on churches.
  2. Natterer's bat and soprano pipistrelle roost locations could be manipulated with acoustic deterrents in spring/early summer.
  3. Soprano pipistrelles eventually habituated to acoustic deterrents.
  4. Light deterrents adversely affected bat behaviour and trapped bats within their roosts.
  5. 'Boxing-in' roosting areas around bats' entry points into a church was found to provide a promising solution, retaining roosting space for the bats but preventing access (and therefore deposition of droppings and urine) to the rest of the church interior.
  6. The operation of techniques and equipment were refined to create a toolkit for the effective and safe management of bats in a church context (based on findings for Natterer's bats and soprano pipistrelles), including a guidance document on the use of deterrents and bespoke 'boxing-in' measures.

The project was commissioned by English Heritage (now Historic England). It was carried out by the University of Bristol; the Bat Conservation Trust and Philip Parker Associates Ltd also contributed to the project. When commissioned, the project formed part of wider work on attritional environmental threats within the National Heritage Protection Plan (Activity 2C2).


  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Recommendations
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendix 1: Implementing the boxing-in trial at Holme Hale Church
  • Appendix 2: Preliminary assessment of ultrasonic rodent deterrents and their potential as bat deterrents
  • Appendix 3: Draft guidance on techniques to reduce the impacts of bats in churches

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed


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