Why are bats present in towns?
Bats make use of objects and buildings created by people. For instance the attics of churches and other old buildings are preferred by bats for the quiet and dark conditions which are suitable for the breeding of youngs for many bat species. This type of buildings provides also suitable conditions for thermophile species e.g. Greater mouse-eared bat, that in the Southern Europe usually use caves. The new problem became panel houses which were massively built during the socialism period. The construction of these houses provides plenty of suitable shelters – panel holes and ventilation slots in spaces under attics. They resemble the stone holes and provide to bats favorable and secure conditions as well. Particularly the Common noctule, originally used the tree holes changes his habits towards panel houses. The bird species Common swift became even more extremely bounded to panel houses, almost whole population is nesting in panel houses. This shift to people settlements is partially caused by human activities – removal of old trees from forests which genuinely provided shelters to birds and bats. The threat of extinction of „panel house“ species would seriously endanger many species. Therefore it is necessary to search solutions for coexisting of bats and people living in housing estates.
Renewal of panel houses
Nowadays, many panel houses are renewed – by pointing and heat cladding. Owing to lack of information, the reconstruction works are often carried out during the breeding of bats and bird nesting period (endangered particularly the Common noctule). In this way, the protected animals have no chance to survive in holes under the heat cladding. The construction company however is obliged in case of finding the protected animal announce this finding to Construction Authority and the Nature Protection Authority (§ 127 of the Construction Law No. 50/1976 Coll.) and to undertake measures to prevent any damage to the protected animal until the Authorities make relevant decisions. Inhabitants of houses can be helpful as well and inform authorities on the presence of protected animal in the house. The construction works should be interrupted until the precaution measures are applied. The concrete actions can be consulted with the Slovak Bat Conservation Society. It is inevitable to keep the openings of shelters at least partially accessible for bats or, in case that it is not possible from hygienic or health reasons, to create for bats alternative shelters. For this purpose can be used diverse types of boxes that can be installed on facade or directly into cladding.
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How to proceed?
In order to prevent the delay in construction works as well as to prevent killing of animals at the construction place it is necessary to respect following instructions:
In the course of the preparation of the project documentation for the construction works it is necessary to determine what animal species are settled in the building, in what period of the year and what the approximate number of animals is. The presence of bats can be determined immediately after the sunset when the bats fly out and also according to the black ablong dropping on the window ledge and under shelters of buildings. The Common noctule is often to be recognized also by intensive voice signs and in that case the inhabitants are mostly aware of the presence of bats. The following organizations can be contacted for support:
Our members are active in several towns in Slovakia and they can provide you with information or make the basic inspection. For more complex projects it is necessary to ask a professional bat consultant for an advice (list of consultants here: www.netopiere.sk).
An expert report, Decision of the Environment Authority or Statement of the SNC SR makes a part of the project documentation for the construction works and the protective measures are included in the Construction permitting.
If the primary inspection proves the presence of protected animals (bats or birds – this information is included in the expert record), it is necessary to inform one of the abovementioned organizations that the construction works are launched or to invite an ecological consultant entitled to manipulation with the protected animals and shelters (law exemption) to supervise directly the construction works .
Since the start of construction works up to the finish and building approval the proposed protection measures must be implemented. These measures enable animals to survive during the reconstruction works even during the nesting or winter period. In particular it refers to evacuation of bats form the holes and shelters, signing of spots with nesting birds occurrence and securing of a successful flying out of youngs. Measures should be undertaken under the supervision of an expert with a law exemption on manipulation with protected animals and shelters. Nowadays, the protection measures are done under special procedure and in case of good cooperation with the constructing company and investor they enable a smooth course of construction works.
Investor or construction company are in charge of supplementary nesting possibilities for birds and bats either in form of keeping the air openings accessible for animals or in form of installation of specific boxes directly into the cladding. It is recommended to install boxes on places where no harm will be caused by animals to inhabitants (at least 1,5 m far from windows, best for shield walls without windows, on the stairs/lift wells etc.) There are several producers of diverse types of animal boxes on the market:
Matúš Kováč, Nitra, email@example.com, 0911 886 455