The Skeena Community Bat Program is seeking volunteers and bat colonies for the Annual 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 biologist Ashleigh Ballevona, coordinator of the Skeena Community Bat Program. “No special skills are needed, you can be any age, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.”
The Annual Bat Count will 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 seven million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” said Mandy Kellner, provincial coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program. “In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington State. This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in B.C. ”
Counts are easy: 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 11 and Aug. 5 when pups are flying.
“We know relatively little about bats in the Skeena, including basic information on population numbers,” said Ballevona. “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.”
To find out more about bat counts, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext. 19.