A Townsend’s big-eared bat.

Nature Conservancy of Canada wants volunteers to count bats near Creston

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The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is calling on volunteers to participate in the annual BC Bat Count at the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor in the Creston Valley wetlands. The BC Bat Count is promoted by the Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP), which has aimed to raise awareness about bats in the region since 2004.

With over half of B.C.’s bat species considered endangered or at risk of becoming endangered, the BC Bat Count is a way for interested locals to help. The citizen-science initiative contributes to monitoring the presence of bats from year to year so conservation scientists have accurate information about changing bat populations.

In 2014, the NCC partnered with the KCBP to install bat houses on its Frog Bear conservation lands. Located in the wetlands at the head of Kootenay Lake, these bat houses sit in the middle of a key bat migration pathway. Both organizations are keen to learn how well the houses are being used by the many bats known to pass through this area.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is looking for one to four volunteers to help conduct the bat count at the Frog Bear bat houses. Volunteers don’t need any special skills or training, but should be prepared to arrive at the conservation area at sunset on a warm evening and count the bats as they exit the bat houses.

Ideally, four counts will occur throughout the summer: two between June 1 and June 21 before pups are able to fly, and two between July 21 and Aug. 15 when pups will exit the roost with their mothers. After the counts, data is sent to the Ministry of Environment.

This year may be the last opportunity to gather information about bat populations before the arrival of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed seven million bats across Canada and the U.S. With a recent infection found in Washington, the illness may be on its way to B.C., and monitoring the province’s bat populations is more important than ever.

If you would like to lend a hand — and your eyes — at the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor this summer, please contact the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Canadian Rockies program office at 250-342-5521 or canadianrockies@natureconservancy.ca.

More information about the BC Bat Count can be found at bcbats.ca.

—NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA

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