B.C. Bat Count seeks bat roosts and volunteers

It can be difficult to know how to help endangered wildlife such as the little brown bat. One simple way to support bats is to participate in the Annual B.C. Bat Count. The Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project, in coordination with the B.C. Community Bat Program, is requesting roost reports and volunteer assistance for this valuable citizen-science initiative. 

Bat counts are easy and fun. Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, in a roof, attic, barn, shed, or bat house, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. Ideally, one to two counts are done at each roost between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one to two more between July 11 and Aug. 5 when pups are flying. 

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In 2019, the B.C. Bat Count collected baseline data on bat populations at 337 sites across the province, and organizers hope to monitor more sites in 2020. The data help biologists understand bat distribution and normal variation in colony sizes before the white-nose syndrome (WNS) affects bats in the province. A devastating fungal disease that has killed millions of bats across North America, WNS continues to spread in Washington state, less than 200 kilometres from our border. Results from the Bat Count may help prioritize areas for research into treatment and recovery actions. 

Residents with bat roosts on their property, along with those wishing to volunteer with the counts, are asked to contact coastwildlife@gmail.com or 604-989-1007. The Wildlife Project acknowledges funding support from Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., Habitat Stewardship Program, and the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

– By Michelle Evelyn

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