Bats keep bug populations down during warm months

Bat conservation important due to spread of White-nose syndrome

  • Nov. 1, 2017 7:00 p.m.

With the recent passing of Halloween when images of scary, blood-sucking bats become common place, it is the perfect time to join with the BC Community Bat Program to counter these bat myths and do something to help bats.

“The conservation of bats in British Columbia has always been important, since over half the species in this province are considered at risk,” says Mandy Kellner, BC Community Bat Program co-ordinator.

“However, with the discovery of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever.”

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by an introduced fungus, first detected in North America in a cave in New York in 2006. Since it was discovered, it has spread to 31 states and five Canadian provinces, decimating bat populations along the way.

“Luckily, WNS is not yet in B.C., but we are preparing for its arrival by raising awareness about bats, working with landowners who have bats in buildings, enhancing bat habitat, and monitoring populations.”

Community Bat projects across B.C. were hosted during Bat Week (Oct. 24-31) to provide information and guidance on ways to help bats.

Monitoring for WNS will continue this winter, with the Community Bat Program requesting reports of dead bats or sightings of winter bat activity.

People can report winter sightings at www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-922-2287.

Options for encouraging healthy bat populations include preserving wildlife trees and wetlands, reducing pesticide use, or building and installing a bat house.

With the decline of natural roost sites, some bat species have adapted to using human-made structures, such as bat-houses. These small boxes have several crevices inside that provide a safe, dry habitat where bats can roost during summer months, Kellner explains.

“Bat-houses are particularly important for maternity colonies where groups of female bats roost together to have their pup during the summer. A well-designed bat-house installed in a good location can provide a home for hundreds of bats.”

In partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, and funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Habitat Stewardship Program, the BC Community Bat Program provides information about bats in buildings, conducts site visits to advise landowners on managing bats in buildings, co-ordinates the Annual Bat Count, and offers educational programs on bats.

To find out more about the BC Community Bat Program, or download bat-house plans, visit www.bcbats.ca or call or 1-855-922-2287.

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