B.C. bat program seeks help from Okanagan residents

B.C. bat program wants you

Okanagan residents who see winter bats in the sky shouldn’t expect to see the batmobile anywhere nearby.

Rather, they should contact Megan Olson, North Okanagan co-ordinator for the BC Community Bat Program.

Anyone seeing winter bat activity, or an injured or dead bat should call 1-855-922-2287 (ext. 13), email [email protected], or report online here.

The information could help bats in need of rehabilitation and allow the group to monitor the spread of white-nose syndrome. The fungal disease has killed millions of bats in North America, but does not affect humans or pets.

“The program is collecting dead bats to test them for white-nose syndrome, as it has not yet been documented in the Okanagan,” Olson said. “Please remember to never touch any live or dead bats with your bare hands.”

The Okanagan is home to at least 14 different species of bats.

Between spring and mid-fall, bats come down into the valley and eat mosquitos, beetles, flies, moths and spiders.

Fewer bats will be around in the winter as they hibernate, but people may see an odd bat flying around on a sunny day, even in below-zero temperatures.

The program is hoping residents will report that activity.

Bats will return in the spring and search for maternal roosts where pregnant bats gather to give birth to their young.

The BC Community Bat Program will be looking for reports of those roost sites and also for volunteers interested in counting bats.

“Our program organizes various community events where you can learn about bat ecology and find solutions for making your property bat-friendly,” Olson said. “If you are keen to do more, you can become a certified bat ambassador and help raise awareness of bats in your community.”

Visit www.bcbats.ca to learn more.

More Vernon News