This Halloween, instead of being afraid of bats, everyone is encouraged to help protect British Columbia’s endangered bat population against white-nose syndrome (WNS).
In support of International Bat Week (Oct. 24–31), the provincial government is increasing funding to combat WNS by over $40,000. MLA for Delta North Ravi Kahlon made the announcement on behalf of Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman at Burrvilla historic house at Deas Island Regional Park.
To date, white-nose syndrome has not been detected in B.C.; however, there are reported cases in Washington State and the disease may arrive here soon.
The funding announced today will support the North American bat monitoring program and improve B.C.-specific bat monitoring guidance. This monitoring is essential for protecting bats from WNS disease and other threats, and to plan for the recovery of bat populations. The Province will continue to work closely with environmental, non-government organizations in implementing an effective response to WNS.
British Columbians in both urban and rural settings are asked to report unusual activity, which includes bats flying during the day in winter (November through May), or dead bats to the B.C. Community Bat Program online at www.bcbats.ca, by calling toll-free, 1 855 9BC-BATS (1 855 922-2287) or by sending an email to email@example.com.
B.C. is home to the most diverse bat population in the country, with 16 out of 19 species that call Canada home. Half of these bats are considered to be of conservation concern, including two that have been recently listed as endangered in Canada due to WNS. WNS appears as a white fungus on bats and can kill entire bat colonies during hibernation.
Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Delta North –
"Bats play an essential role in healthy ecosystems, which is why we need to protect them from white-nose syndrome. This additional funding will help support the fight against this invasive disease.”
Patrick Burke, bat biologist, South Coast Bat Conservation Society –
“The threat of WNS to our bats is extreme. Ten of our species are likely susceptible to the disease, and seven of these species may likely suffer unprecedented population declines. We are working hard to observe and measure changes caused by this disease in western North America.”
Aimee Mitchell, regional co-ordinator, B.C. Community Bat Program –
“Due to the significant knowledge gaps that still exist and the need to locate and monitor more bat colonies, an increase in support for these information-gathering efforts will be essential in mitigating the potential impacts of white-nose syndrome on B.C. bats.”
Heather Deal, chair, Metro Vancouver Parks Committee –
“With more than 3,000 bats roosting in the attic of Burrvilla, Deas Island Regional Park is home to the largest known maternity colony in the province. It's crucial that we protect bats throughout the region by providing important habitat, partnering in research and helping park visitors learn more about these often misunderstood creatures.”
- To date, white-nose syndrome has been found in five provinces and 31 states.
- Bats act as pest control in forests and in agricultural lands; some species can eat at least half their body weight in insects daily.
- Bats are not rodents and, with proper precautions, can co-exist in homes by roosting in attics without damaging property and negatively impacting occupants.
- Bats are among the longest-lived mammals in relation to their size. Little brown bats can live up to 40 years. Long lifespans and low reproductive rates amplify the effects high mortality on the population.
Connect with a community bat program at: www.bcbats.ca
For details on the B.C. Bat Action Plan: http://www.bcbat.ca/action-team/
For further information about bats in buildings: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/managing-pests/animals/bats
See how biologists tag tiny bats at Deas Island Regional Park: http://www.metrovancouver.org/media-room/video-gallery/regional-parks/231004536