A NATIONAL study is calling on Dorset volunteers to survey churches for bats this summer.

For centuries bats have been associated with churches, and in some cases these historic buildings are home to national and internationally important bat roosts.

The Bats in Churches Study, run by the Bats in Churches project, aims to understand how and why these protected mammals use church buildings.

Those behind the study are appealing for Dorset volunteers to come forward to help by searching for evidence of bats in their local church.

Training and Survey Officer, Bats in Churches Project, Claire Boothby said: "We know churches are important for bats, but we are still in the dark about how many of the 16,000 Church of England churches are used by these protected mammals.

"We want to understand the factors affecting bats' use of churches and also get a better picture of the impacts (both positive and negative) on those caring for these buildings.

"By helping unveil the mystery, by looking for evidence of bats and speaking to a representative of the church this summer, you’ll help us to provide better advice and guidance for both church and bat conservation."

The surveys run from the beginning of June to the end of August and are Covid secure.

Participants are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using #ChurchBatDetectives.

To find out more and to register to take part, visit: bit.ly/BiCStudy.