Legally protect bat species
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Perhaps the most common intervention in response to declining species is to provide legal protection. Bats are protected by national and/or international law in many countries. This typically includes protection against killing, injuring, capturing, disturbing or trading bats, or damaging, destroying, or obstructing access to their roosts. Activities that are likely to affect bats in these ways may be against the law and require licences from a government licensing authority.
Assessing the effectiveness of legal protection can be difficult. Effectiveness is best monitored over long timescales, but this increases the chance that other factors may influence population recovery. The legal protection of threatened species can also lead to a range of other conservation actions being implemented at the same time, along with increased research and monitoring efforts.
Increasing population trends for some bat species in the UK may have occurred as a result of legal protection introduced in the 1980s, among other factors such as an increased awareness of bat conservation and changes in agricultural practices (Barlow et al. 2015). Similarly, the recovery and de-listing of the lesser long-nosed bat Leptonycteris yerbabuenae in the USA and Mexcio may have occurred as a result of legal protection, along with bat-friendly farming iniatives and education programmes (US Fish & Wildlife Service 2016).
Evidence that relates specifically to the legal protection of bats during development is discussed in ‘Legally protect bats during development’, and for the legal protection of habitats, see ‘Legally protect bat habitats’.
Barlow K.E., Briggs P.A., Haysom K.A., Hutson A.M., Lechiara N.L., Racey P.A., Walsh A.L. & Langton S.D. (2015) Citizen science reveals trends in bat populations: the National Bat Monitoring Programme in Great Britain. Biological Conservation, 182, 14–26.
US Fish & Wildlife Service (2016) Species status assessment for the lesser long-nosed bat. December 2016. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, NM. 96 pp.