Annual BC Bat Count kicks off with call for volunteers

Annual BC Bat Count kicks off with call for volunteers
(C Buick)
A healthy Myotis bat found hibernating in a woodpile.

Bat biologists are looking for volunteers to help take part in the BC Annual Bat Count, which kicks off today, June 1.

The annual count features volunteers sitting outside various bat maternity roosts spread across the province at sunset.

Volunteers stay for an hour, counting all the bats that come out of the roost.

“Female bats roost together in summer and raise their young in maternity colonies,” said Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, provincial coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program, on May 6. “They generally only have one pup per female in June.”

Last year, volunteers helped conduct 888 bat counts at 274 different maternity roost sites across the province.

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Volunteers are pictured counting bats from a bat box roost at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park. (Paula Rodriguez de la Vega)

This year, organizers are hoping to get the latest data on how the pest-controlling species is doing.

“The data collected is really important as it helps us know how the bat populations are doing in B.C.,” said Rodriguez de la Vega.

“We usually do four bat counts at every roost site – two in June to count just the females and two more starting mid-July when the pups are learning to fly,” she said.

Bats are an important indicator for overall ecosystem health, according to the BC Community Bat Program.

They are a key predator for many night-flying insects, which helps with pest control and benefits the province’s forests and agricultural industries, say organizers.

The annual bat counts also helps monitor for the presence of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has impacted bats in Eastern Canada and the U.S., but has so far not been detected in B.C.

Anyone interested in volunteering for a bat count can sign up online or contact the BC Community Bat Program at [email protected], or 1-855-922-2287 ext.20.


Adam ChanAdam Chan

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