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HELP!  REPORT SICK OR DEAD BATS IN THE OKANAGAN AND SIMILKAMEEN AREAS

As a result of ongoing research, biologists are finding that healthy bats are also somewhat active in winter and that a few bats even choose to hibernate in woodpiles or under house trim. But…

The province’s bats are threatened by disease and researchers are asking the public for help. White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that devastates bat colonies when they tuck into their underground homes to escape winter. The disease is caused by a fungus that grows on bats’ skin while they hibernate, disrupting their long winter nap and causing them to starve to death before spring. Since WNS was discovered in New York state in 2006, it has killed more than 90% of bat populations in eastern North America.   WNS is present in 38 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces. WNS has been confirmed in bats just 100 kilometers south of the B.C./USA border.

“While you’re out enjoying winter wonderland, please keep an eye out for bats,” says Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan region coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program.  “If you see any bat activity or find a dead bat, please report it to www.bcbats.ca, 1-855-9BC-BATS ext.13, or email okanagan@bcbats.ca.”

Detection of WNS in B.C. is challenging because bats in B.C. hibernate alone or in small groups across the province. 

“To monitor the spread of the disease, we need more eyes on the ground. Outdoor enthusiasts and homeowners with roosts on their property may be the first to find evidence of trouble.” Rodriguez de la Vega said.

As a result of ongoing research, biologists are finding that healthy bats are also somewhat active in winter, and that a few bats even choose to hibernate in woodpiles or under house trim.  These sleeping bats should be left alone — keep your distance, snap a photo and report it to the B.C. Community Bat Program. If you must move a bat, visit www.bcbats.ca for advice and never touch a bat with your bare hands.

Bat carcasses will be collected and tested for WNS. Although WNS does not affect people, residents are reminded to never touch a dead bat with your bare hands.

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Post Author: Dagmar White