Spring is here, with rain, flowers, insects, and – bats! 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 now endangered in Canada. In fact, bats in B.C. suffer from many threats, and almost half of our 15 species are “at-risk.”
So Mayne Islanders, it’s time for our 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 – tiny dark pellets – accumulating nearby? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you might be hosting day roosts (mixed species/genders) or maternity roosts (female bats and their young) for the summer and hopefully for many to come! Please contact us at (250)539-2535, email our summer intern Gwen (email@example.com), or send us a message through our website (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also visit our booth and talk to us at the Farmers Market.
The count procedure is simple: Conservancy staff and volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-box, barn, or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. These counts are done twice in June (1-21) and twice again in late July (11-31) to early August (1-5). If possible, guano samples are also collected and sent in to identify the species of bat at the roost site. We also use an acoustic monitor to help with identification.
The count data helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for impacts of the devastating white-nose syndrome, 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 100 km from our border. Results from the Bat Count may help prioritize areas in B.C. for research into treatment options and recovery actions. Thanks to our funders, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., the Habitat Stewardship Program, and many local funders, with support from the B.C. Conservation Foundation and the Province of British Columbia.