Boo! Sure they’re ugly, but they do eat lots of mosquitoes. (Photo: BC Community Bat Program)

Boo! Sure they’re ugly, but they do eat lots of mosquitoes. (Photo: BC Community Bat Program)

Bat counters wanted in Surrey

Biologist Mandy Kellner says it’s a “wonderful way” to help collect important scientific information

Ever count bats with the Count on Sesame Street, when you were a kid?

If so, here’s your chance to relive your childhood, with the exception being that these here bats are real.

“Surrey has many areas that would provide ideal habitat for bats and the BC Community Bat Program requires immediate help from local residents,” said Danielle Dagenais, regional bats coordinator for the Metro Vancouver-Squamish area.

So why count bats?

Biologist Mandy Kellner, coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program, says it’s a “wonderful way for residents to get involved in collecting important scientific information.

“No special skills are needed, you can be any age, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.”

This annual bat count aims to collect “baseline data” on bat populations before a “devastating” fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome strikes bats in this province. Kellner says the disease is estimated to have killed more than seven million bats since it was discovered a decade ago in eastern North America.

“In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington State,” Kellner said. “This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in B.C.”

Bats, of course, are gluttons when it comes to devouring mosquitoes. A lone bat can chow down on up to 1,200 per hour, and that’s just fine by most people who like to enjoy their backyard on a summer evening.

So if you want to participate in the Surrey bat census, join other volunteers who wait by roost sites likes barns, bridges, bat-houses or old atttics to count the bats as they venture out at twilight. For more information on how you can help, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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