The myotis lucifugus, (also known as little brown myotis) is common and widespread across B.C. but endangered in Canada, and is expected to decline in B.C. due to White Nose Syndrome. (Photo credit SM Bishop)

Bat Week? It’s for the bats!

As Halloween approaches, bat enthusiasts around B.C. are celebrating and supporting bats by participating in international Bat Week Oct. 24-31.

Bat Week is all about appreciating these amazing animals and their benefits, from eating insects to pollinating the agave plant used to make tequila.

Take a moment to learn about the many ways bats contribute to our lives, and what you can do locally for bats at www.batweek.org or through the B.C. community bat program at www.bcbats.ca.

Attend a bat talk, help restore a wetland, visit a roost site, or prepare your bat house for next spring. There are many ways to participate.

“Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards – but now bats need our help,” said Mandy Kellner co-ordinator for the B.C. Community Bat Program. “The conservation of bats in B.C. 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.”

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by an introduced fungus, first detected in North America in a cave in New York in 2006. Since it was discovered, it has spread to 33 states and 7 provinces in North America, decimating bat populations along the way.

“Luckily, WNS is not yet in B.C.,” said Kellner, “But we are preparing for its arrival by raising awareness about bats, working with landowners who have bats in buildings, enhancing bat habitat, and monitoring populations.”

Monitoring for WNS in B.C. will continue throughout the winter, with B.C. Community Bat Program requesting reports of dead bats or sightings of winter bat activity starting November 1. Report sightings at www.bcbats.ca, kootenay@bcbats.ca or 1-855-922-2287 ext. 14.

In partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, and funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, Regional District of the East Kootenay, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the B.C. Community Bat Program provides information about bats in buildings, conducts site visits to advise landowners on managing bats in buildings, coordinates the annual bat count, and offers educational programs on bats.

To find out more about the B.C. Community Bat Program, Bat Week activities, and options for helping local bat populations visit www.bcbats.ca or call or 1-855-922-2287 ext. 14.

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