As bats begin to return to the province for the summer, volunteers are again being sought to help with the annual B.C. bat count.
The annual count is an initiative of the BC Community Bat Program.
As part of the program, "colony reports and volunteers assistance" is needed for a citizen-science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at several local roost sites.
"The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats, and be involved in collecting important scientific information” says Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, co-ordinator of the Okanagan 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."
Bat counts happen at various public sites, including Sun Oka Provincial Park, Okanagan Lake South Provincial Park, Peachland Historic Schoolhouse and Fintry Provincial Park.
de la Vega says bat counts also happen at private homes, barns and bat boxes.
One of the more familiar species is the little brown myotis, one of nearly half of B.C.'s 15 species of bats which are presently at risk.
de la Vega says data collected helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for impacts of the devastating bat disease called "white-nose syndrome."
While not yet identified in the province, the disease is spreading through Washington State, less than 100 kilometres from the border.
Bats are an essential part of our ecology, consuming many insect pests each night.
Click here for more information about getting involved.