Going batty over bats

While creatures of the night are usually avoided, experts say the ones living in the Okanagan need some help.

“The conservation of bats in B.C. has always been important, since over half the species in this province are considered at risk,” said Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, coordinator for the Okanagan Community Bat Program. “However, with the discovery of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever.”

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) has decimated bat populations since it was first detected in North America in 2006, spreading to 31 states and five provinces.

“Luckily, WNS is not yet in B.C. but we are preparing for its arrival by raising awareness about bats; working with landowners who have bats in buildings, enhancing bat habitat and monitoring populations.”

Fittingly, with Halloween on the way, Bat Week takes place Oct. 24-31.

  • In the South Okanagan, the Okanagan Community Bat Program is delivering ‘Go Batty' school programs in partnership with the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance Ecostudies Program.
  • In Penticton, bat biologist Tanya Luszcz, will be delivering a lunch hour bat program on Nov. 3 at the Penticton Public Library.
  • In Vernon, Allan Brooks Nature Centre is hosting a bat booth for their Nature Nocturnal event on October 28th.

Rodriguez de la Vega said preserving wildlife trees and wetlands and reducing pesticide use can encourage healthy bat populations.

As well, some bat species have adapted to using human-made structures, such as bat-houses.

“Bat-houses are particularly important for maternity colonies where groups of female bats roost together to have their pup during the summer. A well-designed bat-house installed in a good location can provide a home for hundreds of bats.”

For more information on WNS or building a bat house, go online. You can report WNS sightings at www.bcbats.ca or 1-855-922-2287.

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