Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (pictured) just ‘hanging out’ this winter in an entry way in coastal B.C. (Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project photo)

Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

With spring possibly around the corner, researchers in B.C. are waiting for bats to appear from hibernation. Just like seeing snowdrops and daffodils, seeing an occasional bat means spring is coming.

However, dead bats or bats returning earlier than usual can indicate trouble. Both can be signs of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease responsible for the death of millions of bats in eastern North America.

WNS is spreading on the west coast. Confirmed to the west and east of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, just 150 km south of the B.C.-U.S. border, the presence of the fungus is very worrisome for the health of our bat populations. The disease has near 100 per cent mortality for some species of bats exposed to the fungus, including the familiar Little Brown Bat. Although devastating for bats, WNS does not affect humans.

Detection of WNS in B.C. is challenging because our bats hibernate singly or in small groups across the province. This means that identifying and tracking the spread of the disease relies on heavily public assistance.

“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,” said Mandy Kellner, provincial co-ordinator with the BC Community Bat Program.

Signs of the disease include unusual bat activity in winter and the appearance of dead bats outdoors as they succumb to the effects of WNS.

“We are encouraging the public to report dead bats or any sightings of winter bat activity to the BC Community Bat Program toll-free phone number, website, or email. Bat carcasses will be submitted for testing for white-nose syndrome and would provide the earliest indication of the presence of the disease in B.C.” said Kellner, noting reports of winter bat activity will help focus research, monitoring and protection efforts.

While bats are generally hibernating out of sight this time of year, not every winter bat sighting signals disaster. Bats often hibernate by themselves in a woodpile or basement entryway.

If possible, these sleeping bats should be left alone – keep your distance, snap a photo, and report to the BC Community Bat Program. If you must move a bat, visit www.bcbats.ca for advice. Remember to never touch a bat with your bare hands.

Read more: VIDEO: Scientists focus on bats for clues to prevent next pandemic

Bat are also occasionally spotted flying on relatively warm winter days or evenings. Healthy bats may wake up to drink or even eat, if insects are active. Enjoy these sightings, and remember to let us know when and where winter bat activity was observed.

If you find a dead bat, report it to the BC Community Bat Program (www.bcbats.ca, info@bcbats.ca, or 1-855-922-2287 ext 24) as soon as possible for further information. If you or your pet has been in direct contact with the bat you will need further information regarding the risk of rabies to you and your pet.

Currently there are no treatments for White Nose Syndrome. However, mitigating other threats to bat populations and preserving and restoring bat habitat may provide bat populations with the resilience to rebound. This is where the BC Community Bat Program and the general public can help.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Province of BC, and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the BC Community Bat Program works with the government and others on public outreach activities, public reports of roosting bats in buildings, our citizen-science bat monitoring program, and developing bat-friendly communities.

To contact the BC Community Bat Program, see www.bcbats.ca, email info@bcbats.ca or call 1-855-922-2287 ext. 24.

Read more: B.C. bats do not carry COVID-19: BC Community Bat Program



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Williams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

100 Mile RCMP are asking the public’s help in locating this boat. (Photo submitted).
UPDATED: Stolen boat in 108 Mile found, returned to owner

Owner contacted by third-party witness on social media.

An RCMP cruiser flashes its light as it speeds up Highway 97. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Drivers stopped in joint operation, several offences investigated

The operation was organized by the local BC Highway Patrol traffic enforcement unit on April 17.

The Cariboo Regional District. (Angie Mindus photo)
CRD considers user-pay, other options to reduce waste

Regional district to seek public feedback before updating plan.

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Large police presence at Kamloops mall following alleged armed robbery

Police were called to a business near the mall about 12:45 p.m.

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read