Help gather data on bats

With white-nose syndrome continuing to spread south of the border, the B.C. community bat program is looking for volunteers to participate in an annual bat count.

Last year the count collected valuable data at 214 sites in B.C., helping biologists understand bat distribution and normal variation in colony sizes before the devastating white-nose syndrome hits the province.

The syndrome is a introduced fungal disease fatal for bats and nothing else. It hasn’t yet made it to B.C. but is less than 200 kilometres away in Washington State. Data gathered during the bat count may help prioritize areas in B.C. for research into treatment options and recovery actions.   

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get involved in collecting important scientific information, as well as learn about bat behaviour” says biologist Ella Braden, coordinator of the Okanagan community bat program.

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site and count bats as they leave at twilight. Ideally, a count or two is done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born and a few more between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying.

“We know relatively little about bats in B.C., including basic information on population numbers” continues Braden. “This information is more valuable than ever, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will try to match them with a roost site nearby.”

To find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 13.

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