You are not alone if you are seeing increased bat activity lately, as bat pups are learning to fly in July and August and the chance of encounters is greater.
Midsummer is the time when many landowners see more bat activity flying around or into their house, and sometimes finding bats on the ground or roosting in unusual locations.
“In July and August, pups are learning to fly, and their early efforts may land them in locations where they are more likely to come in contact with humans“, says Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan coordinator with the Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program.
If you do find a bat, whether it is dead or alive you should never touch it with your bare hands. Bats in BC are known to carry rabies and this is why it is important to avoid direct contact.
If you are in a situation where you must move a bat, use a towel or something similar and wear leather gloves to protect yourself. People are also urged to educate their children on why they should never touch, play with, or try to rescue injured or sick looking bats.
If you are bitten, or suspect you may have been bitten or scratched by a bat, you are urged to immediately wash the area with soap and water for 15 minutes. Also contact your doctor as soon as possible or go to the emergency department.
“Bats are important to our ecology and economy. They are the main consumers of night flying insects. Unfortunately, bats are in trouble, and half of the bat species in BC are listed as ‘at risk’,” says Rodriguez de la Vega.
There are some species of bats that have adapted to be in close proximity to humans, as they are prone to living in human structures and colonies can be found under roofs or siding, in attics, barns, or other buildings.
“Having bats is viewed as a benefit by many landowners, who appreciate the insect control. Others may prefer to exclude the bats,” says Rodriguez de la Vega.
It is important to know that under the BC Wildlife Act it is illegal to exterminate or directly harm bats. Exclusion should only be done in the fall or winter when the bats will not be in the building.
Some good tips to avoid having bats in your house is to keep doors and windows closed and ensure screens do not have holes in them. If there is a bat inside your house open the window and close interior doors until the bat leaves.
“Cat predation is a very common cause of death of bats in BC, which is bad for bat populations and potentially exposes the cats, and their owners, to rabies,” says Rodriguez de la Vega.
It is important to keep cats indoors, particularly overnight when bats are the most active. Also make sure they are vaccinated against rabies.
For more information on rabies please refer to the BCCDC website. More information on bats can be found at the BC Community Bat Program’s website (www.bcbats.ca), email [email protected], or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext.13.