Demolition work at Kirkland High School looks set to be delayed because of surprise tenants – roosting bats.
The building was vacated by pupils on Thursday and Fife Council planned to raze it to the ground in September.
However, the local authority told the Mail it would have to wait for the bats to “leave of their own accord” first.
Robin Haddow, engineering assistant, said: “Bats and their roosts are protected so we’ve applied to Scottish Natural Heritage for the approprivate license to remove the roost.
“Subject to approval, we’ll be waiting until the bats leave of their own accord before carrying out the demolition work in the autumn.
“We will be fixing a new bat box in the surrounding neighbourhood as part of the work.”
Sarah Eaton, of Scottish Natural Heritage, said ecologists who surveyed the building found a small maternity bat roost.
The bats were most likely to be pipistrelles – the most numerous bat of nine species in Scotland – and each female would give birth to single pups in late June to mid-July.
“This is partly why they are so highly protected in law, they have only one baby a year and any disruption to a maternity roost could have a devastating effect on their numbers,” she said.
“Bats are important as a link in our biodiversity chain – a single pipistrelle can consume up to 3000 midges in one night.”
Bats suffered drastic decline in the 20th century – particularly in the 1960s – and are now strongly protected by law.
Sarah added: “They have well established traditions and tend to return to the same sites at the same time year after year.”