Ecology

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: Are bats protected?

Answer: It is illegal to kill, injure, or disturb bats, obstruct access to bat roosts, or damage or disturb bat roosts. Bats may be a material consideration in considering a planning application proposal but only where a known bat roost is likely to be affected.

Further advice is available from the Council's website (www.iwight.com/countryside) or from the 'Bat Conservation Trust'. - Related Link

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Question: I have bats in my roof, are they a health hazard?

Answer: Bats often choose to live in the roof space or behind the soffit boards of houses, including modern buildings and bungalows. They do not cause damage to the roof or to the electric wiring, and their droppings, which are dry and crumbly, are not a health hazard. - Related Link

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Question: How can I encourage badgers in my garden?

Answer: You can encourage them by putting out food and water on a regular basis. Then you will have the benefit of watching these beautiful animals at close quarters.

Provide nutritious food, such as peanuts, raisins, and sultanas, but nothing salty. At first it may be necessary to feed them at some distance from your house, and then gradually move the food nearer to your window.
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Question: I’ve seen an unusual spider – is it dangerous?

Answer: There are no dangerous spiders confirmed to have become established on the Island, and all native British spiders are harmless to humans. - Related Link

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Question: I have seen a grey squirrel on the Island, should I report it?

Answer: Grey squirrels are not native to this country and they are not established on the Island. If you have spotted a grey squirrel it is important you report it to the Ecology Service who will forward the information to the Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Partnership.

To contact the Ecology Service please e-mail ecology@iow.gov.uk or telephone (01983) 823893. - Related Link

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Question: I have seen somebody doing work which is affecting nesting birds, badgers or other protected wildlife. Who should I report this to?

Answer: The Council has no powers to enforce wildlife legislation unless a Planning Application is involved. The Police enforce these matters. You should contact the Police and ask to speak to a Wildlife Liaison Officer for the Isle of Wight. The number to contact is 0845 045 45 45. - Related Link

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Question: I thought I saw a hummingbird – can this be true?

Answer: There are no humming birds in the wild on the Isle of Wight. But people often report to us what they think is a hummingbird in their garden in late summer, but are surprised to learn that it’s a rather unusual moth, the hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum ), an immigrant from the Mediterranean region. - Related Link

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Question: Which birds are protected?

Answer: All birds are protected at their nest site. Some birds may be legally shot or trapped at certain periods. Some birds can be controlled under licence. The details of protection and licensing are complex, and vary with the seasons. For specific advice or to report a possible offence contact the Police Wildlife Liaison Officer on 0845 045 45 45. - Related Link

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Question: What should I do if I find an injured animal?

Answer: There is no general emergency service for injured animals provided by the council; although dead or injured animals which are obstructing the highway will be moved.

The council recommends that anyone who does find an animal and is concerned should contact the RSPCA in the first instance. In an emergency and if they can't be contacted, you should approach a veterinary practice and ask their advice. Most island vets will be aware of appropriate people to contact and should be able to offer some advice or even help themselves.


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Question: How can I find out more about red squirrels on the Island?

Answer: See the Wild on Wight website for an overview. http://www.wildonwight.co.uk/species/mammals.php

Alternatively, assistance is available from the Wight Squirrel Project, Po Box 33, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 1BH (01983 611003). - Related Link

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Question: I'd like to volunteer to do some work in the countryside. How do I get involved?

Answer: The work of the Countryside Rangers is supported by a large and loyal band of volunteers, who willingly give their time throughout the year to conserve and enhance their local environment. It's also a good way to meet people, learn new skills and keep fit. There are opportunities for volunteers in most parts of the Island and at most times of year. To find out more contact the Countryside Section for an informal discussion, or look at our schedule of events for an upcoming volunteer day, and just turn up! - Related Link

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Question: Is there any money, or any grants available to do conservation works, plant trees or hedges, or clear ponds on my land?

Answer: The council has no general grants but some specific grants may be available from other bodies.

If your land is within the AONB you should contact the AONB Partnership on 823855 http://www.wightaonb.org.uk/

If you wish to plant trees on the Island, or manage existing woodland, contact the Forestry Commission on 02392 200596. There may be grants available for areas bigger than 1/4 hectare. You can find more information about woodland grants at their website http://www.forestry.gov.uk .

If you are a farmer or use your land primarily for agriculture, you should contact the Defra Helpline by telephone on 08459 33 55 77 or by email at helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk - Related Link

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Question: Do I need to notify the council before I remove a hedge?

Answer: Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove most countryside hedges without permission. The Regulations are quite complex, so it is advisable to discuss your plans at an early stage with the Council, before you seek permission formally. The criteria are more fully explained in the Hedgerows Regulations leaflet. You will need permission if the hedgerow runs either in whole or in part:

* Alongside agricultural land;
* Common land including town or village greens;
* Land used for forestry or breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys;
* A Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest.

You generally do not require permission if the hedgerow is in or borders your garden.

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Question: Do I need permission to remove a hedgerow?

Answer: Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove most countryside hedges without permission. The Regulations are quite complex, so it is advisable to discuss your plans at an early stage with the council before you seek permission formally.

The criteria are more fully explained in the Hedgerows Regulations leaflet which can be obtianed form the council.You will need permission if the hedgerow runs either in whole or in part alongside

* Agricultural land;
* Common land including town or village greens;
* Land used for forestry or breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys;
* A Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special scientific Interest.

You generally do not require permission if the hedgerow is in or borders your garden.

This topic is complex and you are strongly encouraged to contact the council for advice.

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Question: How can I find out about designated and protected sites?

Answer: There are a range of different designations and protected sites across the Isle of Wight.

The Island has around 40 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) notified for their national biological and/or geological interest. These cover some 11% of the Island’s land area.

You can view a range of map-based information about protected areas across the UK, including the Isle of Wight, at http://magic.defra.gov.uk/

If you need more detailed information you should contact the IW Local Records Centre. - Related Link

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Question: What should I do about Japanese Knotweed?

Answer: If you know of knotweed on council land, please let the Countryside Service know (countryside@iow.gov.uk) as a record of this weed is kept. The Council will not take action against knotweed on private land unless it is affecting council property. However if knotweed on council land is causing a problem to you or another landowner you should let the council know so action can if necessary be taken.

If knotweed is on land where development is proposed then the council can where appropriate require the developer to control it - so if you know of knotweed on land which is subject to a planning application, please tell the council about it even if it isn't a problem at the moment.

If you have a neighbour who has knotweed and it is spreading onto your land, the council cannot get involved. However it would be a very good idea for you to take action before it gets near your buildings. It is not illegal to have knotweed growing on your land, but a landowner should not allow it to spread to a neighbour's land. Start with friendly discussions, but if that is unsuccessful, it might be time to consult your buildings insurance company (some will act for you in such matters) or a solicitor. - Related Link

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Question: What can I do about invasive species of plant?

Answer: There are a number of plant species, many associated with ponds and streams, which can cause problems if they escape into the wild. Be very careful not to release domestic plant fragments into wild waters such as rivers or ponds. If you are having problems with invasive species on the Isle of Wight you can consult the Plant Positive group.

This is a partnership combining Newport Rivers, the Environment Agency, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, The National Trust, RSPB and other Island organisations, created to target species such as Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and creeping water primrose. These are non-native plants that have the ability to spread rapidly and displace a more natural flora leaving behind habitats and wildlife that are significantly poorer as a result. - Related Link

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Question: I've seen an adder, what should I do?

Answer: All snakes are protected, and adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed, injured or sold. So it's best not to disturb or hurt any snakes you see. Adders are not aggressive snakes, and will only attack if harassed or threatened. Although an adder’s venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite can be painful and requires urgent medical attention. The same applies to most dogs - if you think your dog has been bitten, get him to the vet as soon as you can.

To avoid snakes, stick to paths and don't go into longer vegetation. If you make a lot of noise as you approach they will soon flee as they are very sensitive to ground vibrations.

For very good advice on reptiles in the garden - both encouraging them and discouraging them - see this comprehensive government leaflet (see link) - Related Link

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Question: I have seen a red squirrel, should I report it?

Answer: Red squirrels are frequent and widespread on the Island but have been lost from virtually all of mainland England, most of Wales and large areas of Scotland.

You can, if you wish, send the details of any sightings by post to the Ecology Service Council Offices, Seaclose or by e-mail to ecology@iow.gov.uk

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Question: How do I contact WIght Wildlife?

Answer: Wight Wildlife no longer exists as a separate organisation. It was a combination of charities and contact now should be addressed to The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Their number on the Island is 533180 and they have an Island Office in Bouldnor Forest

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Question: I’ve seen a deer on the Island, should I report it?

Answer: If you see or find evidence of a deer please report it to the Ecology Service either by e-mailing ecology@iow.gov.uk or by phoning (01983) 823893. - Related Link

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Question: Trees or hedges are obstructing / blocking a public right of way, what do I do?

Answer: Please refer to the attached leaflet for guidance and who to contact. - Related Link

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