Spot a sick or dead bat? Report it immediately and help local conservation work.
The B.C. Community Bat Program is seeking help from residents of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys as they study and track the spread of a disease threatening the province's bat populations.
White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has been responsible for the deaths of millions of bats in eastern North America, and evidence shows it is spreading to the West Coast. It has been confirmed in bats just 100 kilometres south of the B.C./U.S.A border.
"The fungus attacks bats while they are hibernating and, much like mold on bread, spreads over a bats wings and face. This gives the appearance of a white nose,” said Ella Braden, Okanagan coordinator with the B.C. Community Bat Program.
“Bats often wake up from their hibernation to clean the fungus off their skin.”
Once bats wake up, they seek water and insects, but the fungus makes them weak, and they often die.
Detection of the sickness in B.C. bats has been challenging because frequently, local species hibernate alone or in small groups.
"To monitor the spread of the disease, we need more eyes on the ground. Outdoor enthusiasts and home-owners with roosts on their property may be the first to find evidence of trouble,” Braden said.
“We are encouraging the public to report dead bats or any sightings of winter bat activity to the B.C. Community Bat Program."
Ongoing research shows that healthy bats are also somewhat active in winter, and that a few bats choose to hibernate in woodpiles or under house trim.They should be left alone.
Keep your distance, take a photo and report it to the B.C. Community Bat Program. If you must move a bat, visit www.bcbats.ca for advice, and never touch a bat with your bare hands.
If you see a dead bats or any sightings of winter bat activity, report it to the B.C. Community Bat Program online at bcbats.ca, via email at Okanagan@bcbats.ca or by calling 1-855-922-2287, ext. 13.