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BC Community Bat Program seeks volunteers for yearly bat count

Last year volunteers conducted 888 bat counts at 274 sits
Bat counting workshop: Volunteers counting bats as they come out of an attic roost. Photo by Okanagan Community Bat Program

The BC Community Bat Program has put out a call for volunteers to become “citizen scientists” and lend a hand with the annual BC Bat Count.

The count begins on June 1 and will see bat biologists working with volunteers through a series of late nights to count bats at their maternity roosts all around the province.

“Female bats roost together in summer and raise their young in maternity colonies,” said Elodie Kuhnert, Kootenay coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program. “They generally only have one pup per female in June.”

Male bats, on the other hand, are more solitary. They roost alone in large trees, rock cliffs, barns, or buildings and do not help out with raising their young.

READ MORE: Disease threatens the Little Brown Bat

The Annual Bat Count entails sitting outside a bat maternity roost at sunset for an hour, counting all the bats that emerge.

“The maternity roosts that we count are in buildings, bat boxes, or bridges,” Kuhnert said.

Starting May 31 the BC Community Bat Program will be organizing bat count workshops throughout the Kootenays. There were 888 bat counts done last year at 274 maternity roost sites around B.C.

“The data collected is vital for understanding how bat populations are doing in BC,” Kuhnert said. “We usually do four bat counts at each roost site – two in June to count just the females and two more starting mid-July when the pups are learning to fly.”

The Annual Bat Count was started in 2012 and is the only long-term monitoring program focusing on bat summer roosts in the province. Information collected helps biologists to monitors bat populations and track impacts on the species and recovery.

For example, declines in populations could indicate impacts from white-nose syndrome (WNS), which is a fungal disease that has dramatically reduced bat populations in eastern Canada and the U.S. While the fungus responsible for WNS was detected in Grand Forks in 2022, no cases of the disease have yet been detected in B.C.

“A large number of the roost sites we count house Little Brown Myotis and Yuma Myotis, both of which are susceptible to white-nose syndrome,” Kuhnert explained.

As bats feed on night-flying insects, they are a key component of their ecosystems. According to the BC Community Bat Program, bats provide billions of dollars in economic benefit due to their help controlling agricultural, forest and urban pests.

If you are interested in helping out with the count for the first time, want to learn more about bats, or count with a Bat Ambassador, you can register at

You can also report bat colonies or sign up to help with bat counts at or by contacting or 1-855-5922-2287 ext. 14.

READ MORE: Fungus could ‘drastically’ affect B.C. bat populations: researchers

About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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