Spring is here, and with warmer night time temperatures our B.C. bats are now returning to summer roost sites.

One of our more familiar species in buildings and bat boxes is the little brown myotis. Like all B.C. bats, the little brown myotis is an essential part of our ecology, consuming many insect pests each night. Unfortunately, the little brown myotis is endangered in Canada due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal bat disease. The fungus responsible has recently been detected in B.C. for the first time, sounding the alarm bell for B.C.’s bats. As of May this year, the silver-haired and the hoary bats have been assessed as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). These are two more known summer residents on Mayne Island.

Little brown myotis from Hardin County, Illinois, with symptoms of white-nose syndrome. Modified from a photo by Steve Taylor, University of Illinois via Creative Commons license.

A simple way to support bats is to participate in the Mayne Island Annual Bat Count this June. Our Conservancy Community Bat Program is requesting reports on bats around your property, preferably coming from an identifiable source (roof, tree, barn, etc.).  Volunteers are required for this citizen-science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.

Our Annual Bat Count is easy, fun, and safe, not to mention vital for monitoring bat populations. The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats, and be involved in collecting important scientific information. Volunteers, landholders,  and Conservancy staff wait outside a known roost site and count bats as they fly out at twilight. We have some regular sites we visit to do two counts during June and two during late July to early August. We continue to look for new roost sites, so please contact the Conservancy office at 250-539-2535 and book an assessment, or come to our booth at the Farmers Market. This year Alistair, our summer intern, will be coordinating the program. We may also collect a guano (dropping) sample at new sites that will be sent in to identify the species of bat at the roost site.  Find more information here.

The count data helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for impacts of the devastating white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is an introduced fungal disease, fatal for bats. but not for other animals or humans. Results from the Annual Bat Count may help prioritize areas in BC for research into treatment options and recovery actions.

White-nose syndrome spread map, with BC fungus detection site shown as a red star. Modified from www.whitenosesyndrome.org and http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/white_nose_syndrome_reports_and_maps.php.

The Mayne Island Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property, or who have questions about how to attract bats. The program is funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Federal Summer Jobs Program, and the Mayne Island Conservancy, with the support of the BC Conservation Foundation and the Province of BC.

To find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, or to get advice on managing bats in buildings, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS. For local advice and assessments, contact the Mayne Island Conservancy info@mayneconservancy.ca


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