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

Misinformation can lead to problems for bats, project says

The Kootenay Community Bat Project is concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic is shining a negative spotlight on bats in B.C., and it could lead to unfounded fear and persecution of bats.

The Bat Project put out a press release this week emphasizing that bats in B.C. do not have, nor do they spread the SRS-Cov-2 virus responsible for COVID-19.

In reality, bats are an essential part of our ecology, the press release said, consuming many insect pests each night. Bats in B.C. suffer from many threats, and almost half of our 15 B.C. bat species are ‘at risk’. One of the more familiar species, the Little Brown Myotis, is now endangered in Canada.

A simple way to support bats is to participate in the BC Annual Bat Count this summer. The BC Community Bat Program is requesting colony reports and volunteer assistance for this citizen science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.

Bat counts are easy, fun, and safe, not to mention vital for monitoring bat populations.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, respect social distancing guidelines, and be involved in collecting important scientific information” says Leigh Anne Isaac, coordinating biologist of the Kootenay Community Bat Program.

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat box, barn, or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. 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. The target is to complete four counts during these two periods.

In 2019, the Annual Bat Count collected baseline data on bat populations at 337 sites across the province, and hopes to monitor these sites and more for 2020. The count data helps bat biologists understand where bats occur and how the size of colonies naturally vary before our bats face impacts from a devastating bat disease called white-nose syndrome.

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

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

Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Habitat Stewardship Program, and with support of the BC Conservation Foundation and the Province of BC, the Kootenay Community Bat Project 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, white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca, call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 14, or email kootenay@bcbats.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mugshots Cafe: renovated and reopened

The Fernie-favourite once again has its doors open to the public

Pick all your apples and save the bears

As summer ends, bears become more active looking for food

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read