Yuma myotis is one of the species people may encounter. (J. Burgar photo)

Bat-count volunteers sought for White Rock area

Seaside city provides ‘ideal habitat’ for roost sites, organizers say

Organizers of an annual tally of B.C.’s bats are looking for volunteers to help log the mammals’ population in the White Rock area.

The BC Community Bat Program Annual Bat Count is a “citizen-science initiative” that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.

“White Rock provides ideal habitat for bats and the BC Communitu Bat Program requires help from local residents,” regional bat co-ordinator Danielle Dagenais told Peace Arch News by email.

According to a news release, volunteer counters can be any age and even participate while relaxing in a deck chair.

The count aims to collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating White Nose Syndrome fungal disease affects bats in the province.

“White Nose Syndrome is estimated to have killed more than seven million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” biologist Mandy Kellner, co-ordinator of the BC Community Bat Program, said in the release.

“In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington State. This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in BC. We need the public’s help to census local bat populations – we never know when it is our last year to obtain population estimates before White Nose Syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America.”

Count 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. The final number is recorded along with basic information on weather conditions. Organizers say ideally, one to two counts will be done between June 1-21, before pups are born, and one or two more between July 11 and Aug. 5, when pups are flying.

Those who want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property will be matched with a roost site nearby, according to the release.

People are also encouraged to report the location of known roost sites so that they may be monitored in the future.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, and with support of the BC Conservation Foundation and the provincial government, the BC Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats.

For more information about bat counts, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.

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