Bats in Ireland
Ten species of bats have been recorded in Ireland. They are Daubenton’s (Myotis daubentoni), whiskered (Myotis mystacinus), Natterer’s (Myotis natterei), Leisler’s (Nyctalus leisleri), common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Nathusius pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii), brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii) and the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). In February of this year, a single male Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) was found roosting in Co. Wexford, Ireland. This is the first record of this species occurring naturally in Ireland. The Irish population of lesser horseshoe bats is restricted to Counties Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry (NPWS, 2008). Until recently the rare Nathusius pipistrelle was thought to occur only in Northern Ireland but there have been recent reports of the species in the Republic.
All bat species in Ireland are protected under both national legislation – (Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended in 2000) and European legislation – (Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC)). There is additional protection for lesser horseshoe bats because of their inclusion in Annex II of the Habitats Directive. The Habitats Directive is transposed into Irish law in the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations (S.I. 94 of 1997). The Irish Government is also a signatory to the Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn, 1979)) and the Bern Convention, 1982 (The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats) and has a commitment to the “Eurobats” Agreement (Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe, 1991).
The Habitats Directive provides protection for the habitats and roosts of all bat species as well as the bats themselves. Under Annex II of the Habitats Directive the Irish Government is obliged to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for the lesser horseshoe bat. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is responsible for the selection and designation of these sites.
#Bat roosts are protected, irrespective of whether or not they fall within the boundaries of an SAC. The NPWS must be informed of all issues relating to bats during the planning and construction of national road schemes. This includes all roosts identified, timetable of activities that affect these roosts, measures proposed in dealing with roosts and outcome of all actions. This necessitates that all procedures and actions be reported, including accidental breaches of the scheduled removal of roosts.