Fungal disease threatening Okanagan bat population

Watch for winter bats

British Columbia's little brown bat is currently being threatened by a fungal disease from Alberta and Washington State.

The Okanagan Community Bat Program is asking the public for help in preventing the spread of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is harmless to humans and pets, but has been devastating bat populations across North America.

The fungus attacks bats while they are in hibernation, growing on their faces to give an appearance of a white nose. The bats often wake, try to clean themselves off, but die of starvation and loss of energy.

Millions of bats have been killed and now two B.C. species of bats are listed as endangered due to the disease.

The disease was first found in the state of New York in 2006, and continues to spread across North America. Increasing the number of reports from the public is the best chance to understand how this incurable disease spreads and affects local populations of bats.

If you come across a dead bat or see winter bat activity before May 31, you are urged to contact the B.C. Community Bat Program online at www.bcbats.ca or by calling 1-855-922-2287 ext. 13.

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