Spring is here, with rain, flowers, insects, and – bats! BC bats are now returning to summer roost sites. One of the more familiar species in buildings and bat boxes is the Little Brown Myotis. Like all BC bats, the Little Brown Myotis is an essential part of the ecology, consuming many insect pests each night. Unfortunately, the Little Brown Myotis is now endangered in Canada. In fact, bats in BC suffer from many threats, and almost half of the 15 species are ‘at-risk’.
A simple way to support bats is to participate in the BC Annual Bat Count this June. The BC Community Bat Program is requesting colony reports and volunteer assistance for this citizen-science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.
The BC Annual Bat Count is easy, fun, and safe, not to mention vital for monitoring bat populations. “The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats, and be involved in collecting important scientific information” says Elodie Kuhnert coordinator of the Kootenay Community Bat Program. Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-box, barn, or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. A guano sample can also be sent in to identify the species of bat at the roost site. Find more information at https://bcbats.ca/get-involved/counting-bats/.
The count data helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for impacts of the devastating bat disease called white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is an introduced fungal disease, fatal for bats but not for other animals or humans. Not yet found in BC, the disease continues to spread in Washington State, less than 100 km from our border. Results from the Bat Count may help prioritize areas in BC for research into treatment options and recovery actions.
Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Columbia Basin Trust, The Kootenay Lake local fund and the Columbia Valley local fund , and with support of the Wildlife Conservancy Society, the BC Conservation Foundation, and the Province of BC, the BC Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats. To find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat, or to get advice on managing bats in buildings, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.
READ: Researchers seek public assistance to help protect B.C.’s bats