Attention Mayne Islanders!

It’s time for BC’s Annual Community Bat Count and we need your help.

The Mayne Island Community Bat Conservation Program is looking for new roost sites to monitor as part of our annual program.

  • Have you seen 5 or more bats flying around your property?
  • Have you seen any emerging at twilight from their roost—attic, soffit, wall, wood shakes, tree or rock crevices?
  • Have you noticed an accumulation of guano accumulating nearby?

If you answered yes to one of these questions, you might be hosting roosting female bats and their young for the summer. Please contact us at (250) 539-2535, email our summer staff Joël, or send us a message so we can assess your site.

Allow us to introduce…

From last year’s survey, we were able to confirm the presence of two more bat species, bringing the total number of species known to Mayne Island to five, with three other species suspected but not yet confirmed. Guano samples and photographs were used to identify the Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus).

Silver-haired bat (left) Big Brown bat (right)

Why bats are important and how we can help

Bats are pest-control superheroes. They help control flying insect populations like flies and moths. Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per hour!

Healthy and abundant bat populations are considered an indication of a healthy ecosystem. An abundant bat population means a healthy Mayne Island. This is why our annual count is so important. The Southern Gulf Islands bat populations aren’t well studied. By tracking their numbers, we can potentially detect changes in the environment, understand normal variations in colony size and monitor for disease outbreaks.

White-nose syndrome is a fatal fungal disease that has ravaged eastern bat populations. Although it hasn’t been identified in BC yet, it is currently spreading in Washington State. Scientists anticipate it’s arrival in BC, and are keen to learn more about our bat populations before they are impacted by the disease. With a thorough census of bats, we can plan for treatment options and prioritize high population areas for prevention.

Bats and coronavirus

The virus causing COVID-19 is not found in North American bat species. News coverage of the search for the virus’s source has implicated bats as part of the picture. Although they can be hosts to other coronaviruses (like many other species), there is no risk of transmission, especially when left undisturbed. COVID-19 is now a human disease, transmitted from person to person.

The main concern about the novel coronavirus and bats is the possibility of transmitting the virus to them. While there is no evidence yet that our bat species can be infected, all people working with live bats are required to implement the precautionary principle and must wear protective equipment like masks and gloves. These measures have been put in place to avoid potentially disastrous effects on an already vulnerable animal.

You can find more information here

How bat counts work

For new potential sites (observations of five or more bats), we will visit your property and look for any signs of bat roosting. If successful, we will then undertake one or two counts between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one or two more between July 11 and August 5, when pups are flying. The counts are easy and low-stress for homeowners. Our Conservancy summer staff simply wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat house, barn, attic or tree snag, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. We also have access to digital recording equipment that allows us to identify the species by their echolocation calls. Bat guano samples are also collected and sent to BC Bats for DNA analysis. The results of this analysis help identify what species we have on the island. Conservancy bat counters will note the number seen, along with basic information on weather conditions.

Maintaining habitat and existing with bats

The Mayne Island Conservancy bat program’s primary goals are to locate roosts wherever they exist and to work with the landowners on their long-term conservation. The use and installation of bat boxes is a secondary goal for when natural or building roosts are in short supply or the roosts must be moved. Bat boxes need to be located in appropriate habitats to provide ideal spots for bats to rest and feed safely. By knowing exactly where bats are located on Mayne Island, we can then work towards ensuring that those areas are protected, or that bat boxes are installed to substitute for changing conditions.

The new bat box at St John Point installed by the Habitat Acquisition Trust

You can find more about coexisting with our little furry flying friends here.

For more facts about bats, follow these links:
Yay For Bats
The Unseen Life of Bats

We gratefully acknowledge funding support from the BC Conservation Foundation for the Mayne Island Community Bat Conservation Program.


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