Bats for bats: Comox named Island’s first bat-friendly community

Bats for bats: Comox named Island's first bat-friendly community
A Little Brown Bat is shown in a handout photo.

The Town of Comox is going bats for bats.

The town says it’s the first municipality on Vancouver Island and the sixth in B.C. to receive bat-friendly community certification from the BC Community Bat Program, a science-based network promoting awareness and stewardship.

The mainland communities of Delta, Richmond, Port Moody, Dawson Creek and Peachland have already been deemed bat-friendly, according to Comox joins the ranks following its efforts to protect and create bat habitat, provide information about bats and promote learning.

It’s something to celebrate as the winged creatures are often left unnoticed, says Tim Ennis, a regional bat program coordinator.

“Bats are incredibly important to our local ecosystems, agricultural interests, and human comfort, but are often overlooked,” said Ennis in a Town of Comox news release.

“With so many existing threats to bat populations and the likelihood of additional concerns from White Nose Syndrome on the horizon, the time to act is now,” added Ennis.

“The Town of Comox is demonstrating leadership in bat conservation, and we hope other communities will choose to do so as well.”

In 2019, the Province of B.C. said the province had the most bat species in Canada, with 16 of the 18 Canadian species.

Yet the BC Community Bat Program says about half of them are considered at risk, with threats including white-nose syndrome, wind farms, depredation and habitat loss. The Little Brown Myotis, for example, is a species of bat that’s been spotted on the Island and is considered endangered.

That’s concerning because bats play a “critical” role in ecosystems, the program says.

“With their important role in controlling nocturnal insect populations and cycling nutrients from wetlands to forests, bats are a critical part of our ecosystems,” it says.

The province says bats “keep pests in check that are problematic for agriculture and forestry,” ultimately resulting in a healthier environment, notes Comox Mayor Nicole Minions in the release.

“This is something good we can do for our local Vancouver Island ecosystem that is low resourcing thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Comox bat team for their efforts,” added Minions.

“The Town of Comox has a reputation for championing the bat population and increasing community awareness by hosting workshops and building bat boxes in our park spaces.”

The town says its parks department will continue identifying additional bat habitats within the park system, where they’ll also search for more locations for bat boxes. It says public education and learning opportunities, including bat talks, are in the works with “Bat Week” also planned for fall.

More information about the town’s bat-friendly designation is here, while details about the program are here.

More conservation tips and common threats to bats are listed online.

Tim Ennis, North Island Coordinator, BC Community Bat Program, presents the Town of Comox with their official designation as a Bat Friendly Community to Comox Mayor, Nicole Minions, and the Comox Team leading the initiative locally (Mark Salter, Tryna McLean, Paul Laronde). Photo: Town of Comox

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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