Got bats in your Koots?
The successful Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) is gearing up for another year of identifying local bat species, providing educational programs and workshops, and assisting landowners with bat issues.
Of the sixteen species of bats in BC, half of them are considered vulnerable or threatened and an additional species, the little brown myotis, has recently been assessed for federal Endangered status. Information on local bat species and their roost sites is an important part of bat conservation and management.
“This community-based project is driven by the support and enthusiasm of local residents,” says Juliet Craig, Coordinating Biologist for the project. “By residents reporting their bats, we have identified almost 300 roost sites for seven bat species, including maternity colonies of the Townsend’s big-eared bat.”
During a site visit, biologists will bring a bat down (if possible) from the attic or barn for residents to have a close look at. Because they have their rabies shots, biologists are able to safely handle bats, allowing them to identify them. They measure and weigh the bat, provide information about bats to landowners, and provide ideas for addressing concerns such as smell and noise.
“Some people don’t mind having bats in their buildings, while others are looking for methods to remove them,” explains Craig. “We provide people with information and ideas for addressing their issues, whether that means leaving the bats where they are, or removing them from the roost site with as little impact as possible.”
Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, the project also includes educational programs, such as presentations, school programs and mist-netting nights. One of the focuses this year is on the BC Bat Count where residents are encouraged to count bats leaving a roost site on their property for four nights this year.
“We are looking for participants for the BC Bat Count this year” adds Craig. “This information is very valuable, since there is very little known about local bat species and their population numbers. Also, many of the colonies in buildings are the little brown myotis which have been assessed as an endangered species in Canada.”
The Kootenay Community Bat Project is a leading example in North America of a community-based project that engages the community in bat conservation, incorporates local knowledge in identifying roost sites, and works with landowners towards the conservation and enhancement of roost sites.
If you have bats living in your buildings, would like to join the BC Bat Count, or need information on how to build a bat-house, visit the Kootenay Community Bat Project website at www.kootenaybats.com or contact 250-352-2260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juliet Craig is a Registered Professional Biologist with Silverwing Ecological Consulting.