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Communities go batty

A new initiative to support bat conservation has been launched in the Okanagan.

The goal of the "Got Bats" Okanagan Community Bat Program is to provide information and get the public's assistance with location and monitoring the population.

"We'd love to hear from people who notice bats entering buildings on their property," said program coordinator Margaret Holm. "And for those who want to attract bats, there are a variety of bat house and roost options. We can give homeowners suggestions about supporting their bat habitat, or if needed, figuring out the best method and time of year to exclude the bats without endangering the adults or young."

Of 16 species of bats in British Columbia, 14 species can be found in the Okanagan. Almost half of the species  are considered at risk due to concerns about habitat changes affecting populations and limited locations for winter and summer roosting habitats.

An additional concern is the potential arrival of White-Nose Syndrome, a devastating fungus that has already killed more than 6 million bats in eastern North America.

Although the fungus has not yet reached BC, it is predicted to arrive in the next decade.

The public can really help by identifying structures where groups of bats roost, these are usually maternal colonies where females give birth to their pups. Residents who know of a colony can also participate in bat counts.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the program can be reached by calling, 1-855-9BC-BATS and by visiting the website, www.bcbats.ca.

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