Volunteers counting bats as they emerge from a roost site at sunset.

Volunteers counting bats as they emerge from a roost site at sunset.

Kootenay Community Bat Project providing bat count training for Creston Valley

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Do you want to become a citizen scientist contributing valuable data towards conservation of bats in B.C.? The Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP), in partnership with the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA), is providing a training workshop for the annual bat count on at 8:30 p.m. June 4 at the Wildlife Interpretation Centre. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at roost sites to provide valuable information on bat populations.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for residents of Creston who have bats roosting on their property to collect important scientific information” said Juliet Craig, co-ordinating biologist for the KCBP. “You don’t need any special skills and kids can be involved.”

The annual bat count is being promoted by the KCBP in partnership with the Ministry of Environment to collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating white nose syndrome enters the province.

“White nose syndrome is decimating bat populations in eastern North America” said Craig. “We are lucky that this disease is not yet in B.C. but it is predicted to arrive here within 10 years. By monitoring bat populations, we can detect sudden declines in bat populations.”

Residents 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 can video the emergence or use a hand tally counter to count the bats. They record the final count along with some basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and two more between July 21 and Aug. 15 when pups are flying with their mothers.

“We know relatively little about bats in this region, including basic information on population numbers,” said Craig. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected every year.”

Funded by Columbia Basin Trust, the KCBP also provides educational programs and information for landowners dealing with bat issues on their property. For more information, visit www.kootenaybats.com or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 14. For information on the June 4 bat count workshop, visit www.crestonwildlife.ca.

—KOOTENAY COMMUNITY BAT PROJECT