The Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project is sending out the bat signal to find volunteers to participate in the Annual BC 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 scientificinformation” says Wildlife Project Leader, Dr. Michelle Evelyn. “No special skills are needed, kids can be involved, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.”
This year the Annual Bat Count will help the BC Ministry of Environment 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 six million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” says biologist Dr. Purnima Govindarajulu with the Ministry of Environment. “In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle.This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in BC. We need the public’s help to census local bat populations.
The summer of 2016 may be our last year to obtain population estimates before White Nose Syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America.”Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat house, barn, roof, attic, or tree and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, 1-2 counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and 1-2 more between July 21 and August 15 when pups are flying.“We know relatively little about bats on the Sunshine Coast including basic information on population numbers” says Evelyn. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected annually.We encourage anyone who has a bat roost on their property or knows of an existing roost to please contact us.”
Bat stewardship efforts on the Sunshine Coast are funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Habitat Stewardship Program, and the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.The Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project is pleased to provide information for people who are dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats.
Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project team member Laura counts bats at a roost site on Sechelt Inlet.