People attending church services in South Somerset are being asked to check to see if they can see any bats lodging in roof spaces.
For centuries, bats have been associated with churches and, in some cases, these historic buildings are home to national and even internationally important bat colonies.
Now, organisers of a ‘bats in churches’ study want to understand how and why these protected mammals use church buildings and are appealing for volunteers to help search for evidence of bats in churches, including here in South Somerset.
The study has already provided some surprising results - including the discovery of grey long-eared bats in a church building that are one of the rarest mammals in Britain, with an approximate population of 1,000, and few known records of the species residing in churches.
The 'Bats in Churches' study is a five-year project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and brings together partners from the conservation and heritage sectors, to reduce the damage bats can cause in churches, while also protecting their roosts.
The project is also helping with innovative solutions that allow bats and churches to occupy the same space without conflict and works closely with ecologists, church architects and local communities.