To your batmobiles, citizens

The Kootenay Community Bat Project is seeking volunteers for the Annual Bat Count

Large colony of yuma bats in attic of local house.

Large colony of yuma bats in attic of local house.

The Kootenay Community Bat Project is seeking volunteers for the Annual Bat Count. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at known roost sites to provide valuable information on bat populations.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for residents who care about wildlife to be involved in collecting valuable information,” said Juliet Craig, Coordinating Biologist for the Kootenay Community Bat Project. “They don’t need any special skills and kids can be involved.”

The Annual Bat Count is being promoted by the Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) in B.C. to collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating White Nose Syndrome enters the province.

“White Nose Syndrome is decimating bat populations in eastern North America,” Craig said. “We are lucky that this disease is not yet in B.C. but it may just be a matter of time. Monitoring bat populations may indicate sudden declines associated with White Nose Syndrome.”

Residents wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They can video the emergence or use a hand tally counter to count the bats as they fly out. They record the final count along with some basic information on weather conditions. Two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and two more between July 21 and August 15 when pups are flying with their mothers.

“We know relatively little about bats, including basic information on population numbers,” Craig said. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we do our best to match them to a roost site nearby.”

Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, the KCBP also provides support for landowners dealing with bat issues on their property. To download Annual Bat Count instructions and data forms, to register for the bat count, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.kootenaybats.com under the ‘Get Involved’ link or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.