Conservationists have been keeping tabs on the endangered Little Brown Bat, and they can provide more help when they gather more data.
And that info is fun to record, as each summer, the BC Community Bat Program invites nature lovers out to be part of the Annual Bat Count.
“This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites,” reads the press release. “In 2018, the Annual Bat Count collected baseline data on bat populations at 214 sites across the province, and hope to find more sites for 2019. The count data helps bat biologists understand bat distribution and normal variation in colony sizes before the devastating White-nose Syndrome affects bats in the province.”
White-nose syndrome is an introduced fungal disease, fatal for bats but not for other animals or humans. Not yet identified in B.C., the disease continues to spread in Washington State, less than 200 km from our border. Results from the Bat Count may help prioritize areas in B.C. for research into treatment options and recovery actions.
Bat counts are easy and fun.
“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get involved in collecting important scientific information, as well as learn about bat behaviour” says biologist Ella Braden, coordinator of the Okanagan Community Bat Program. Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, one to two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one to two more between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying.
“We know relatively little about bats in B.C., including basic information on population numbers” continues Braden. “This information is more valuable than ever, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will try to match them with a roost site nearby.”