Bat Week: learn how the animals can help us and how we can help them

Spread of white-nose syndrome a concern to BC Community Bat Program

Bat box time for maintenance: Fall is the perfect time to check that your bat box is water-tight and clean, ready to offer a safe roosting site for bats in spring. Photo: Habitat Acquisition Trust

B.C.’s bats need our help, says the BC Community Bat Program, and what better time to promote awareness for the interesting and useful creatures than Halloween, when images of them abound.

October 24 to 31 is International Bat Week, which is dedicated to appreciating all the ways these animals benefit their environments, including eating insects, pollinating flowers and spreading seeds and nutrients.

READ MORE: BC bats don’t spread COVID-19 says Kootenay Bat Project

“Bats in BC help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards — but now bats need our help,” said Mandy Kellner, coordinator, BC Community Bat Program.

“The conservation of bats in BC has always been important, since over half the species in this province are considered at risk. With the continuing spread of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever as we expect to see impacts in BC in the near future. ”

Not only does Bat Week coincide with the Halloween season, making it a good time to counter perspectives of bats as spooky creatures, it’s also the time of year when they migrate to warmer climes in search of insects to eat.

Because this is the time of year bats tend to leave our nieghbourhoods, it’s a good time to do renovations if you’ve happened to have to delay them due to bat presence.

The BC Community Bat Program says this is also the time to clean out and repair bat boxes, or do bat-friendly exclusion work without disturbing or injuring any bats.

READ MORE: Kootenay residents asked to participate in bat count

Another important thing for the later months of the year is to report any bats you see in the winter. Community bat programs will be requesting reports of dead bats or sighting of winter bat activity to continue to monitor for White-nose Syndrome.

The Kootenay Community Bat Program partners with the BC Ministry of Environment and is funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of BC, Habitat Stewardship Program, Columbia Basin Trust and the Kootenay Conservation Program.

Thanks to this support they are able to provide information and promote local stewardship and citizen science.

On their website, bcbats.ca have a wealth of information on how to report winter bat sightings, how to install and maintain a bat box or how to safely remove them from your home, plus lots more information about the animals themselves and all the ways they can be helpful to have around.

You can also learn more about International Bat Week at www.batweek.org



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

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