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Inaugural meeting of Clare Bat Group to be held in Dromore
Posted: 13th September 2006

A forum catering for the growing numbers of people interested in bats in county Clare will convene for the first time next week. The inaugural meeting of the Clare Bat Group will take place on Thursday September 21st at 7pm in Dromore Woods, near Ruan. Clare County Council, The National Parks and Wildlife Services, Bat Conservation Ireland, The Clare Biodiversity Group and other interested parties, have established the Group.

Nine of the ten species of bats in Ireland are found breeding in Clare, underpinning the county's status as one of Europe's most important bat population centres. The Daubenton's bats, for example, are endangered in parts of Europe but are still considered relatively common in Clare but are listed as 'endangered' in the Irish Red Data Book. Clare also has internationally important populations of Lesser Horseshoe and Leisler's bats. The mammals are strictly protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act (1976) and the EU Habitats Directive.

Elaine Keegan, Biodiversity Officer with Clare County Council has urged members of the public to attend the first meeting of the Group. She added that one of its main objectives is to expose people to the highly complex lives of bats and help to dispel the myths that exist about them. "Bats actually have very good eyesight but because they hunt at night when it is dark, they use sound (echolocation) to navigate and locate their prey. Echolocation is a highly sophisticated accurate location method. Bat detectors have been developed to make the ultrasound audible to humans and have helped to distinguish different bats in flight. And, despite the rumours, bats do not get stuck in you hair", Ms. Keegan stated.

"The first meeting of the Clare Bat Group comes just weeks after a survey of Daubenton's bats was undertaken in the county. The waterways audit involved a number of local volunteers. The level of public interest in the survey encouraged Clare County Council and the Clare Biodiversity Group to establish a Forum specifically catering for those interested in finding out more about the mammal", Ms. Keegan added.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, David Lyons of the Clare Bat Group indicated that the first meeting of the Clare Bat Group would be followed by a number of other events later in the year. "The Clare Bat Group will hold regular talks and events in Clare. The next event will be a talk by bat expert Conor Kelleher at 8pm on Thursday October 19th in Clare Museum, Ennis", Mr Lyons said.

The first meeting of the Clare Bat Group takes place at 7pm on Thursday September 21st at 7pm in Dromore Woods, near Ruan. A bat walk through the woods led - by expert Sinéad Biggane - will follow the meeting. Those planning to attend are advised to bring suitable outdoor footwear/clothing as well as a torch and/or a bat detector. More information can be obtained by contacting Elaine Keegan on 065-6846456 or biodiversity@clarecoco.ie.

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