The Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) is seeking volunteers for the annual BC Bat Count. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.
“Bat counts are a wonderful way for residents to get involved in collecting important scientific information” said KCBP co-ordinator Leigh Anne Isaac. “No special skills are needed, kids can be involved and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.”
This year, the annual BC Bat Count will help the Ministry of Environment (MOE) collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating white-nose syndrome fungal disease affects bats in the province.
“White-nose syndrome is estimated to have killed more than six million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” said MOE biologist Dr. Purnima Govindarajulu. “In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle. This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in B.C. We need the public’s help to census local bat populations. The summer of 2016 may be our last year to obtain population estimates before white nose syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America.”
Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, one or two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one or two more between July 21 and Aug. 15, when pups are flying.
“We know relatively little about bats in the Creston Valley, including basic information on population numbers,” said Isaac. “This information will be extremely valuable, 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 Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and with support of the BC Conservation Foundation, Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund and the Columbia Basin Trust, the KCBP provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or have questions about how to attract bats.
—KOOTENAY COMMUNITY BAT PROJECT