Updated guidance for bat groups, Bat workers forum – 22Aug21

In this message we have:

  • The latest updated guidance for bat groups from the BCT
  • The Covid risk level and protect strategies for bat events in Somerset
  • Details of the Bat workers forum
  • The last chance to vote for Edward and Helen for the Pete Guest award
  • Updated Risk assessments

Updated guidance for bat groups

The BCT recently published a Special Edition Bulletin on Bat Group Activities & COVID-19. This bulletin covered the following:

  1. Current Understanding of SARS-CoV-2 Human to Bat Transmission Risk
  2. Bat Group Activities Not Involving Handling of Bats
  3. Education Bats at Events
  4. Bat Group Activities Involving Handling of Bats
  5. Bat Rehabilitation Activities
  6. Testing of Bats for SARS-CoV-2
  7. Other Advice for Professional Ecologists

Click here to read the full bulletin.

Covid risk level and Protect strategies FOR SBG Events

In August 2021 the BCT sent us the Special Edition Bulletin on Bat Group Activities & COVID-19 above. This says we “should work through the IUCN BSG risk calculations“, for our area.

According to the IUCN SSC Bat Specialist group ‘s Recommended Strategy to Reduce the Risk of Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Humans to Bats v2 there is a “low but credible risk of human-to-bat transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and that this risk can be reduced using mitigation strategies”

The IUCN strategy gives a framework to establish the risk level to bats, and this section outlines the current level of risk in Somerset and our strategies to minimise that risk.

Events with no close contact with Bats

Group events not involving close contact with bats, can proceed according to national and local restrictions. These events include Bat Walks and Talks, Acoustic and Visual Surveys

Current Status (July 2021 onwards) – Green, no restrictions apply. In line with government guidance we ask all attendees to events to apply “hands, face, space” and to wear a mask when in enclosed or confined spaces.

Events with close contact with bats

The risk for group events that enable close contact with bats will be measured according to the IUCN SSC Bat Specialist group ‘s Recommended Strategy to Reduce the Risk of Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Humans to Bats v2. This apples to Bat box checks, trapping and internal bat roost visits.

Current Status (August 2021 onwards) – Amber, Medium Risk. This means we can proceed with caution, and use protect strategies to mitigate risk.

The protect strategies we will adopt for Amber risk are: Reducing the number of sites and individual bats, Limiting number of participants, Limiting people handling bats and ensuring safe Epidemiological status of participants ie Only those fully vaccinated, or those who have had a negative test within the past 2 days, to attend event.

These are in addition to the green low risk protect strategies, which will apply to all bat close contact events going forward: Avoid bat contact when possible, Wear a face covering, Do not blow on bats, Practice hand hygiene, Use nitrile or latex gloves, Avoid touching your face, Disinfect equipment, and not attending event if diagnosed with Covid-19 in last 14 days, or anyone showing Covid Symptoms.

Please see this page for the full details of the current event risk level, and our strategies to protect bats.

Details of our upcoming events are on our website: https://somersetbat.group/events/upcoming/

Bat Workers Forum 2021 – Bookings Now Open

The 2021 Bat Workers Forum (BWF) will be taking place at 7pm on Tuesday 14th September. Following the increased numbers of attendees last year at the online BWF, it will be held online via Zoom again this year. Whilst the National Bat Conference has been moved to later in the year (29th – 31st October), the BWF has remained in its usual September time slot.

A final edition of the agenda will be circulated before the Forum.  For more information about the Bat Workers Forum and the terms of reference please see: https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/conferences-symposia/national-bat-conference/annual-bat-workers-forum.

If you would like to attend, please book via the link on the above webpage. During booking there is an opportunity to share any issue you’d like to raise.

Pete Guest Award 2021 – Voting

Voting for the Pete Guest Award is still open so if you haven’t voted yet there’s still time to vote for Helen and Edward: https://forms.gle/wCAFbo6xS3zm8toAA.

Voting closes at 9am on the 27th August. Details about the award and the supporting statements for the nominees can be found here: https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/awards/pete-guest-award.

The winner will be announced during the Bat workers forum.

Updated Risk Assessments

Now that we are restarting events, we have updated all the groups risk assessments to cover the current (and hopefully future) situation. These can all be downloaded from our website.

Direct links: