If you’ve noticed bats flying erratically recently, you’re not alone says ecology specialist

If you've noticed bats flying erratically recently, you're not alone says ecology specialist
BC Community Bat Program
Bats roosting in exposed locations, such as this bat on a sun umbrella, can be left alone and will move on at dusk.

Small, winged creatures have been causing a stir lately with what people are calling ‘strange behaviour’.

The Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) recently announced they have been receiving reports of strange bat activity on Vancouver Island. They say people have been reporting bats flying erratically and frightening them.

They say this behaviour is actually because, at this time of year, young bats are learning to fly with their new wings. The activity causes concerns as bats live near to people during the spring and summertime, according to the organization.

“There is a learning period for the babies that lasts about a month and a half,” said Ronna Woudstra, bat program coordinator and outreach coordinator for HAT. “You can imagine echolocation and flight are kind of a tricky thing to nail down when you’ve never done it before.”

They say recent heat and smoke may also be causing bats to use unusual roost sites and people may find a bat flying inside their home accidentally during their learning.

HAT adds that bats often rely on human-built structures as summer roosting habitats and leave during the winter. They say human reactions to their erratic behaviour can cause issues for the population.

“When people try to get rid of bats in the summer, it can seriously harm the population,” said HAT regional bat coordinator Danielle Buckle in an email to CHEK News.

While some homeowners see bats as a benefit because of insect population control, Woudstra says the ideal time to prevent bats from entering homes is during the winter as bats aren’t around.

She says putting up one-way doors, made of chicken wire, over potential areas where bats can enter a home are good to do between early fall and spring. They say if owners are interested in keeping bats for insect control, bat boxes are an option.

HAT says if people find a bat, dead or alive, to not touch it with bare hands and call a veterinarian because bats in B.C. have low levels of rabies infection. They say any potential exposure shouldn’t be treated lightly.

HAT says people looking for more information are asked to go to their website at www.bcbats.ca.

READ MORE: Check for stow-away bats: BC asks public to help avoid spread of white-nose syndrome

Justin WaddellJustin Waddell

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