Dorset

Powerstock Common bat roost 'arson attack' prompts rebuild plea

Old gangers hut before and after the blaze Image copyright Dorset Wildlife Trust
Image caption The hut on Powerstock Common, which has been managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust since the 1970s, was destroyed by the blaze which is believed to have been arson

Wildlife campaigners have pledged to rebuild a registered bat roost that was destroyed in a suspected arson attack at a nature reserve in Dorset.

The blaze was started the 150-year-old former railway "gangers" hut on Powerstock Common reserve, near Maiden Newton, earlier this month.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has set up an appeal to raise £4,000 to rebuild the hut and fund conservation work.

The hut was a roost for species including the lesser horseshoe bat.

Work to rebuild the hut would ensure there is continued habitat for bats in a new structure, and also pay for monitoring of the bat population, the trust said.

The wet, wooded habitat on the common is important to lesser horseshoe bats - one of the smallest in the UK - as a foraging area.

Development officer Jodi Hibbard said people had been "shocked and saddened" by the destruction of the hut which was previously used by rail workers when the railway line through the common was active.

Dorset Police said it was investigating and appealed for anyone witnessed suspicious activity in the area before the fire on 14 April.

Investigator Katerina Hubackova said: "The hut was an important historical building in the context of the history of the old railway line and this has now been lost."

A benefactor has offered a £1,000 reward for any information which leads to a conviction for the arson attack.

Image copyright The Vincent Wildlife Trust
Image caption The hut was a roost for species including the lesser horseshoe bat

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