DCSIMG

Nursing night-time flyers’ softer side at Leeds bat hospital

Maggie Brown with one of the charges in her bat hospital in Otley. PIC: Gerard Binks

Maggie Brown with one of the charges in her bat hospital in Otley. PIC: Gerard Binks

The swooping silhouettes that roam free at night also need tender loving care when they’re feeling down and out.

And after 28 years of nursing injured bats back to full health, Maggie Brown, who lives in Otley, is more than happy to wrap them up in cotton wool to get them back on their feet.

The retired teacher, 66, has become one of the nation’s leading bat conservationists, having rescued hundreds of animals through the West Yorkshire Bat Hospital which she runs out of her shed.

Maggie’s work has not gone unnoticed and she was honoured for her outstanding voluntary contribution to bat preservation at the Bat Conservation Trust’s (BCT) National Bat Conference in Warwick yesterday.

She told the YEP: “I was completely surprised, there are lots of people like me about the country spending lots of time doing various different things to conserve bats.”

Maggie started helping the animals when a neighbour brought an injured bat to her house nearly three decades ago.

Currently nursing more than a dozen bats back to full health, Maggie also organises training and workshops on bat care and has written the well-respected Bat Care Manual.

She said: “I’m best known for pushing the boundaries of bat rehabilitation, particularly rearing lost baby bats for release.”

Numbers of British bats have declined steeply in the last century due to changes in farming techniques and urban and rural development.

Lisa Worledge, of BCT, said: “Bats really do need all the help they can get.”

LESSENING NUMBERS

Bats are becoming an increasingly threatened species due to loss of habitats and lessening food supplies.

The UK is home to 18 species of bat, many of which roost in fields or caves and in some cases buildings such as barns, houses and bridges.

All UK bats eat insects so often forage for food near pastures, water or woodland. Bats are not blind but hunt in the dark using echolocation, which is similar to sonar.

Visit: www.bats.org.uk for more on the Bat Conservation Trust.

 

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