Townsend’s big-eared bat roosting in Sooke.

Have you seen hibernating bats this winter?

Wanted: Public reports of bat activity during winter months

  • Jan. 28, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Bats are gone for the winter and their whereabouts is unknown on Southern Vancouver Island, say researchers.

Biologists are requesting reports from citizens of bats found hibernating in caves or human structures during the cold season.

“For Southern Vancouver Island, our local bats are often found by landowners in barns, attics, or other small spaces as summer roosting habitat between May and October” said Paige Erickson-McGee, stewardship coordinator at Habitat Acquisition Trust.

“Come fall as the temperature cools, the number of bats slowly dwindles and where they fly to overwinter is unknown for our region.”

Biologists from Habitat Acquisition Trust, also known as HAT, have been responding to public reports of roosting bats over the summer, assisting residents with bat house installations and providing information about managing the land or structures for bats.

Why are bats taking shelter in human-built structures?

The primary reason is a loss of natural roosting habitat in the form of large old hollow trees. Many of these trees are removed during development or cleared in parks as a safety precaution to avoid injury by falling trees.

In the winter, local bats have been reported to hibernate in caves or abandoned mines, but specific locations on Southern Vancouver Island are unknown.

The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) was emergency listed as endangered on the federal Species at Risk Act in 2014 because of sudden and dramatic declines across the eastern portions of the ranges.

These declines are the direct result of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in eastern North America during their winter hibernation. It is not known to exist in bat colonies west of the Rockies, but may arrive in B.C. during the next five to 10 years.

One of the first steps to better understand bat behaviour is to determine habitat use in the winter.

By locating the winter hibernation sites, biologists hope to determine how to protect them from disease and how to help populations survive should disease arrive.

South Island residents are urged to contact HAT at the B.C. Community Bat Program Hotline: 1-855-922-2287 (Ext. 12) if bats are recently seen hibernating in the winter.

Information of particular importance is the location of winter bat roosting sites and unusual behaviour such as flying during the day.

“Programs like the B.C. Community Bat Program have been in place to collect information from the public on bat populations in B.C. with the intention of aiding in the conservation of bats and their habitats” said Juliet Craig, coordinator of the B.C. Community Bat Program.

“Reports from citizen scientists about bat hibernacula are extremely important for bat conservation in the province.

 

Just Posted

Woman charged in Saanichton stabbing

One man treated for injuries, released from hospital following Friday assault

Sooke’s First Nations have Iroquois links

References to the proud Iroquois race tend to make one think of… Continue reading

Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

2019 Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care invites cyclists for May 26 fundraiser

Funnyman coming to the West Shore

Comedy and television staple Billy Gardell performs at Elements Casino

Police-run Youth for Change and Inclusion camp bids fond farewell to tireless directors

Founder Sgt. Paul Brookes has run camp empowering youth and creating leaders for 16 years

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read