Former FDGB home “Fritz-Heckert” near Gernrode/Harz – mass quarters for bats,

Since the political change more than 30 years ago, the gutted multi-storey building complex from the 1950s has stood empty. Since then, it has been visited by many adventurers, nostalgics and the Lost Place community. The traces of the visitors are unmistakable: everywhere smears and “graffiti artists” have been realized here.

From the Lost Place community came the hint to the Arbeitskreis Fledermäuse Sachsen-Anhalt e. V. that many bats were noticed when creating “artistic works”.

These indications were investigated. In multiple checks from October to December 2021, up to 240 pipistrelle bats were counted in crevices and perforated bricks in one day. Also, other species such as barbastelle and brown long-eared bat have been spotted. There are wall areas from which it “chirps” and those to which bat droppings stick. It is clear that there are significantly more bats than are externally visible.

On 14.12.2021, we conducted a mistnetting in the former dining room during windy and cool outside weather. Among eight captured common pipistrelles, one recapture was found from a large swarming site “Heuscheune”, NSG Bodetal, about 12 km away, banded on 14.07.2018. In the immediate vicinity of the catching place slept 78 common pipistrelles and a barbastelle.

The responsible nature conservation authority was informed about the occurrence.

In March 2022, numerous other bats were observed. Plans were announced from the press that the buildings would be put to use. However, it must be taken into account that bat protection must be considered; species of the FFH Directive of Annexes II and IV live here.

Mass winter quarters of pipistrelles were previously unknown in the Northern Harz Mountains. Which other bat species stay here with how many individuals is also unknown.

When conversion and reconstruction work is planned, extensive investigations and replacement measures are necessary to protect the bats.

The example shows how important it is to receive information from the local people and to have good contacts with local actors, such as the lost place community in this case.

Guest post by:

Andreas Fritsch, AK Fledermäuse Sachsen-Anhalt e. V.

Bernd Ohlendorf, State Reference Office for Bat Protection Saxony-Anhalt

Ruin of the former FDGB home “Fritz-Heckert” near Gernrode, Harz.
Wintering common pipistrelle bats (left and center) and a barbastelle bat (right) in open holes of bricks.
Impression from the premises of the ruins of the hotel complex. There are a variety of crevices and open stone holes where bats find quarters.
Lost Place Community discovers Bat Roosts