Spring is here, with rain, flowers, insects, and – bats! Our B.C. bats are now returning to summer roost sites.
One of our 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 our 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 our 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 asking homeowners to report at any bat colonies found in their homes this summer and to report any bat boxes they may have installed. The program is also requesting volunteer assistance for their citizen-science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.
The BC Annual Bat Count began on June 1. It 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 Danielle Dagenais, coordinator of the Greater Vancouver-Squamish 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, and with support of 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.