Annual B.C. Bat Count needs volunteers in Vancouver area

The B.C. Community Bat Program is looking for help monitoring Metro Vancouver’s bat population.

Have bats living in your home? Got a bat house on your property? Or just want to help local bats? Volunteers are needed over the next three weeks, and again starting in mid-July, to help collect important data in the annual B.C. Bat Count. Last year, the count collected baseline data on bat populations at 214 sites across the province, and organizers are hoping to find even more sites this year.

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“This year, there are 19 roosts stretching from Bowen Island to Coquitlam that need monitoring,” said B.C. Community Bat Program regional coordinator Danielle Dagenais. “Volunteers are key to this program.”

Abandoned houses, barns and church steeples, and even occupied structures, can provide a summer home for female bats and their young.  Monitoring those colonies can help biologists determine how bat populations in the area are doing from year to year.

Volunteers typically wait outside a known roost site at twilight and count bats as they fly out, recording the final number as well as basic information on weather conditions.

The program is looking to collect as much data as possible before the fatal white-nose syndrome affects the province’s bat population — the fungal disease is fatal to bats but not other animals or humans. It has not yet been seen in B.C. but has spread in Washington state, resulting in three Canadian species being listed as endangered.

Bat count results could help areas in the province for research into treatment and recovery options.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get involved in collecting important scientific information, as well as learn about bat behaviour,” said Mandy Kellner, B.C. Community Bat Program provincial coordinator. 

“We know relatively little about bats in B.C., including basic information on population numbers,” Kellner said. “This information is more valuable than ever, particularly if it is collected annually. 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.”

Organizers are looking for volunteers for one to two counts between June 1 and 21, before pups are born, and another one to two between July 11 and Aug. 5, once the pups start flying.

For more information about the bat count, or other bat-related information, visit www.bcbats.ca, call 1-855-9BC-BATS, or email vancouver@bcbats.ca.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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