Go to bat for bats during Bat Week
As Halloween approaches and bat decorations appear, bat enthusiasts around B.C. are celebrating and supporting our real bats by participating in International Bat Week (October 24- 31).
Bat Week is all about appreciating these amazing animals and their benefits, from eating insects to pollinating the agave plant used to make tequila.
Take a moment to learn about the many ways bats contribute to our lives, and what you can do locally for bats, at www.batweek.org or through the BC Community Bat Program at www.bcbats.ca. Research bats online, host an educational event, help restore a wetland, learn about bat-friendly lighting, prepare your bat box for next spring… there are many ways to participate and support bats. Watch the Kootenay Community Bat Project Facebook page to learn about bats in a fun and interactive quiz culminating in some fun batty prizes.
“Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards – but now bats need our help,” said Mandy Kellner, Coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program. “The conservation of bats in B.C. has always been important, since over half the species in this province are considered at risk. With the continuing spread of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever as we expect to see impacts in BC in the near future.”
Bat Week is also the time to say ‘so long’ to bats in our neighbourhoods, until the return of insects with the warmer weather in spring. As insect-eaters, our B.C. bats must leave their summer roost sites and migrate or hibernate to survive the winter. This absence means that this is the time of year to do home renovations that you have delayed due to bat presence. You can clean out and repair a bat box, or do bat-friendly exclusion work, without disturbing or injuring bats.
If you do see a bat in winter, please report it. Monitoring for White-nose Syndrome in B.C. will continue this winter, with Community Bat Programs requesting reports of dead bats or sightings of winter bat activity starting just after Bat Week, on November 1.
In partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment, and funded by Columbia Basin Trust, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of BC, Habitat Stewardship Program, and the Regional District of the Central Kootenay, the BC Community Bat Program provides information about bats in buildings, conducts site visits to advise landowners on managing bats in buildings, and coordinates the BC Annual Bat Count.
You can report winter bat sightings, find out more about the BC Community Bat Program, Bat Week activities, and options for helping local bat populations, at www.bcbats.ca, [email protected], or 1-855-922-2287.
Lead image: An outdoor bat info booth. Photo by J Balke; Photos submitted
Kootenay Community Bat Project