Victoria looking for Bat Volunteers

Habitat Acquisition Trust is looking for volunteers to help count bats in the Greater Victoria area. If you are interested, please contact them at hatmail@hat.bc.ca or 250 995-2428, or visit their website www.hat.bc.ca for more information.

Listen to Adam from HAT on Victoria radio station CFAX 1070 discussing the Annual Bat Count. Bat discussion begins at the 15 minute mark.

Got bats? That’s the question that local conservation group Habitat Acquisition Trust is asking Victoria area residents. HAT is sending out the bat signal to find volunteers to participate in the first Annual BC Bat Count and to map bat colonies in the region. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for people who care about wildlife to be involved in collecting important scientific information” says Adam Taylor, Executive Director of Habitat Acquisition Trust. “They don’t need any special skills and it’s a great way to get kids involved too.”

The Annual Bat Count is being promoted by the HAT, as well as other BC Community Bat Projects and the Ministry of Environment to collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating White Nose Syndrome enters the province.

Bats at Risk

Of the sixteen species of bats in B.C., over half are considered at risk in the Province. There are many threats to these amazing creatures of the night including habitat loss, intentional extermination (which is illegal under the B.C. Wildlife Act), wind farm development, and most recently, White Nose Syndrome which is a devastating introduced fungus that has already killed oer 6 million bats in North America. Basically, bats need all the help they can get.

“White Nose Syndrome is decimating bat populations in eastern North America” says Purnima Govindarajulu with the Ministry of Environment. “We are lucky that this disease is not yet in BC but it is predicted to arrive here within ten years. Monitoring bat populations is essential for detecting sudden declines associated with White Nose Syndrome caused mortality.”

“If we don’t understand bats in the region, we can’t do anything to protect them” says Christian Engelstoft, a biologist with Habitat Acquisition Trust. Engelstoft says the information gathered through the Annual Bat Count can be used to help locate and conserve colonies and guide habitat restoration efforts. “Without this information, we might not even know if there is a problem.”

Volunteering easy and fun

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. Volunteers use a hand tally counter to count the bats. They record the final count along with some basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups fly, and two more between July 21 and August 15 when pups are flying with their mothers.

“We know relatively little about bats in this region including basic information on population numbers” says Taylor. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will do our best to match them to a roost site nearby.”

HAT’s Community Bat Program can also help people with bats in their home or outbuilding learn how to live with bats or help them exclude them in a way that does not harm the bats.

Contact us for more information at 250 995-2428 or email hatmail@hat.bc.ca.