As Halloween approaches and bat decorations appear, bat enthusiasts around B.C. are celebrating and supporting our real bats by participating in International Bat Week on Oct. 24 to 31. Bat Week is all about appreciating these amazing animals and their benefits, from eating insects to pollinating the agave plant used to make tequila.
Take a moment to learn about the many ways bats contribute to our lives, and what you can do locally for bats, at www.batweek.org or through the BC Community Bat Program at www.bcbats.ca. Research bats online, host an educational event, help restore a wetland, learn about bat-friendly lighting, prepare your bat box for next spring — there are many ways to participate and support bats.
“Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards, but now bats need our help,” says Mandy Kellner, co-ordinator for the BC Community Bat Program. “The conservation of bats in B.C. has always been important, since over half the species in this province are considered at risk. With the continuing spread of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever as we expect to see impacts in B.C. in the near future. ”
BatWeek is also the time to say ‘so long’ to bats in our neighbourhoods, until the return of insects with the warmer weather in spring. As insect-eaters, our B.C. bats must leave their summer roost sites and migrate or hibernate to survive the winter. This absence means that this is the time of year to do home renovations that you have delayed due to bat presence. You can clean out and repair a bat box, or do bat-friendly exclusion work, without disturbing or injuring bats.
If you do see a bat in winter, please report it. Monitoring for White-nose Syndrome in B.C. will continue this winter, with Community Bat Programs requesting reports of dead bats or sightings of winter bat activity starting just after BatWeek, on Nov. 1.
In partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, and funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of BC, and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the BC Community Bat Program provides information about bats in buildings, conducts site visits to advise landowners on managing bats in buildings, co-ordinates the Annual Bat Count, and offers educational programs on bats.
You can report winter bat sightings, find out more about the BC Community Bat Program, BatWeek activities, and options for helping local bat populations, at www.bcbats.ca, email@example.com, or 1-855-922-2287.