Citizen-science initiative needs volunteers to count Okanagan-Shuswap bats

Citizen-science initiative needs volunteers to count Okanagan-Shuswap bats

Volunteer assistance is needed to count bats at local roost sites around B.C.

The BC Community Bat Program is asking for volunteers to help endangered wildlife, such as the Little Brown Bat, with a citizen-science initiative.

Volunteer assistance is needed to count bats at local roost sites around B.C.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get involved in collecting important scientific information, as well as learn about bat behaviour” said biologist Ella Braden, co-ordinator of the Okanagan Community Bat Program, in a news release.

READ MORE: Penticton students go to bat for bats

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. Results from the bat count may help prioritize areas in B.C. for research into treatment options and recovery actions.

READ MORE: Peachland researchers warn public to be on alert for dead bats

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 Aug. 5 when pups are flying.

“We know relatively little about bats in B.C., including basic information on population numbers,” said 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.”

The BC Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats. To find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 13.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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