With the warm weather in many parts of the province, the B.C. government is asking those who are returning from their summer travels to keep an eye out for stow-away bats.
The warning comes as a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome has recently arrived in Washington state.
The disease is not dangerous to people or pets but has killed millions of bats in eastern North America. The disease can devastate local bat populations.
Before hitting the road, travelers are asked to check nooks and crannies of their trailers, campers, vehicles and umbrellas or awnings.
If a bat is found, the public is advised not to touch it with their bare hands.
You can use a thick towel, oven mitts or a leather glove to remove a bat or gently nudge the bat into a container using a whisk broom — to safely release it.
The public is also asked to notify the B.C. Wildlife Health Program at (250) 751-3219 or (250) 751-3234, or the BC Community Bat Program at 1 855 922-2287 or [email protected] if one is found.
The province goes on to warn that a small percentage (less than 0.5 per cent) of bats in B.C. carry the rabies virus that can pose a threat to animals and people.
If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, you should immediately wash the affected area with warm, soapy water and seek medical care.