A plea by the Habitat Acquisition Trust urging residents from Sooke to Port Renfrew to help identify where bats roost and keep hidden during the day has produced an overwhelming response.
“Thanks to the [Sooke News Mirror] article we got a huge response,” said Jill Robinson, coordinator of HAT’s bat stewardship program.
“We’re really encouraged by the community involvement in contacting us. We’re also glad to hear that there are roosting sites around the Sooke area. It’s really promising to hear.”
Researchers with the B.C. Community Bat Project Network say they know “almost nothing” about the local bat population.
Residents are reporting bats in houses, garages, sheds and other structures. A number of bats have been found in abandoned mine shafts in the Sooke area. Dead bats have also been given to HAT for identification.
Many of the sighting in Sooke have been found along Otter Point Road, which shouldn’t be a surprise due to the number of wetlands in the area.
The most common bats identified are little brown, yuma and big brown.
Of the 16 species of bats in B.C., over half are red or blue-listed, meaning that their populations are declining and they could become endangered.
The B.C. Community Bat Project Network was established in many regions of B.C. in 2014 to support bat conservation. The goals are to raise awareness about bats, provide information to homeowners dealing with bat issues in buildings, promote the installation of bat-houses, and develop a citizen science program to monitor bat populations.
Bats are an incredibly valuable part of our ecosystem. They play an important role in controlling insect populations, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds and yet, researchers know very little about them.
“Identifying where they are living will give us a better idea on how we can protect their habitat and more about what’s limiting in their habitat,” said Robinson.
Robinson said she’s been encouraged by the number of people who have indicated they want to install bat-boxes on their property, which encourages bats to roost.
For more information about bats, please go online to hat.bc.ca or call 250-995-2428.