Police Probe Mordern Tavern Bats Claim

Allegations made of bat roost disturbance

Police are investigating allegations of a bat roost disturbance at the empty Morden Tavern.

The Metropolitan Police's Wildlife Crime Unit were made aware of the allegations in mid-November by a campaign group fighting controversial plans for homes on the site.

A report by public environment body, Natural England, following a survey in September, has already stated: "The presence of bats has been indicated". It recommended further surveys in May, which is a more optimum time for bat-spotting.

PC Stuart Paton, Wandsworth Borough Wildlife Crime Officer, and PCSO Bedford, Merton Wildlife Crime Officer, have been investigating a claim that the roost was illegally cleared.

PC Paton said: "In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by legislation so it is an offence to either intentionally, recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats or damage or destroy a bat roosting place, even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time If has happened it could be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)."

The officers have recently visited the site and taken advice from a local bat expert as part of their investigation.

They have yet to find "conclusive evidence" of there being a bat roost on the site. But further surveys can't be carried out in winter when the bats are in hibernation, so their investigation remains "ongoing".

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December 23, 2011