New bat houses in the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor near Wynndel.

New bat houses in the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor near Wynndel.

Nature conservancy, Kootenay bat project add bat houses near Wynndel

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Thanks to the efforts of a handy group of volunteers, bats can now find new summer homes in the Creston Valley.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Kootenay Community Bat Project have installed four bat houses on the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor lands near Wynndel. The bat houses are made of several chambers that bats can crawl into, providing safe, dry roost sites for maternity bat colonies.

“The Creston Valley is an important habitat for bats like the Yuma and little brown myotis,” says Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat expert working on the project. “These bat species form large maternity colonies which are groups of females that roost together to have their pups.”

Once considered common, the little brown myotis is at risk of becoming listed as an endangered species in Canada due to the devastating impacts of white nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of bats in Eastern Canada. The disease has not yet reached B.C., but scientists are certain it will surface in the province eventually.

“Providing roost habitat to support little brown myotis in B.C. before white nose syndrome arrives here is extremely important in conserving bat populations,” says Lausen. “We are excited about the opportunity to install several types of bat houses on this property, not only to provide roost sites but to learn more about which model of bat house is the most suitable for this region.”

Four different types of bat houses have been installed: nursery boxes, a bat can, two-chambered rocket boxes and a simple rocket box.

The project is a collaboration between many partners. Funding came from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and in-kind time and discounted materials were provided by Wynnwood, Pyramid Building Supplies, Northtown Rentals and Comfort Welding. A largely volunteer work party installed the bat houses on May 23.

“We are so thankful for all the support we have received from the Creston area,” says Nancy Newhouse, Canadian Rockies program manager for the NCC. “It is wonderful to see volunteers spend their energy to provide homes for bats in this valley.”

The Frog Bear Conservation Corridor is an initiative by the NCC that aims to create a zone of safe passage for bears and other wide-ranging animals, while also protecting essential habitat for the many rare and important species that rely on the ecologically rich lowlands of the Creston Valley.

The public is invited to come out on Discovery Day to see the new bat houses and to learn about the bats and other wildlife that can be found in the Creston Valley at a special community event hosted by the NCC.

Discovery Day will be held May 31, with afternoon field tours from 2-5 p.m. and an evening presentation with grizzly bear biologist Michael Proctor at the Creston and District Community Complex at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.natureconservancy.ca/frogbear or call 250-342-5521.

To learn more about bats in the Creston area, visit www.kootenaybats.com.

The Nature Conser-vancy of Canada is the nation’s leading land conservation organization, working to protect important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (over one million hectares), coast to coast. More than one quarter of these are in B.C.

The Kootenay Community Bat Project was established in 2004 to raise awareness about bats in southeastern B.C. and work with local residents who have bats in buildings.

—NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA