Baby bats, called pups, are born hairless but soon grow fur, begin to fly, and may land in surprising places. I-J Hansen photo

Got bats in your belfry?

You may be noticing more bats. Here is some important info on what to do and not do.

Are you noticing more bats around your house or property? You are not alone!

Mid-summer is the time when landowners typically notice more bat activity, may have bats flying into their house, and occasionally find a bat on the ground or roosting in unusual locations. These surprise visitors are usually the young pups.

“In July and August, pups are learning to fly, and their early efforts may land them in locations where they are more likely to come in contact with humans,” said Mandy Kellner, biologist and coordinator with the BC Community Bat Program.

If you find a bat, alive or dead, never touch it with your bare hands. Bats in B.C. have very low levels of rabies infection, but any risk of transmission should not be treated lightly. Contact a doctor or veterinarian if a person or pet could have come into direct contact (bitten, scratched, etc.) with a bat.

Landowners can visit the Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program’s website (bcbats.ca) for information on safely moving a bat if necessary and to report bat sightings. The Skeena Community Bat Project also has a 1-800 number (1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 19) for further advice.

The Program is currently seeking reports of mortalities at bat colonies in houses, barns or bat houses. The BC Community Bat Program and their support with batty matters is funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, and the government of B.C.

Female bats gather in maternity colonies in early summer, where they will remain until the pups are ready to fly. Some species of bats have adapted to live in human structures, and colonies may be found under roofs or siding, or in attics, barns, or other buildings.

Having bats is viewed as a benefit by some landowners, who appreciate the insect control. Others may prefer to exclude the bats. Under the BC Wildlife Act it is illegal to exterminate or harm bats, and exclusion can only be done in the fall and winter after it is determined that the bats are no longer in the building. Again, the Skeena Community Bat Project can offer advice and support.

To find out more, download the “Managing Bats in Buildings” booklet, or contact your local Community Bat Program. Visit bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.

–Submitted story

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