White-nose syndrome creeps closer to B.C.

Reporting dead bats may help save the lives of our B.C. bats.

The B.C. Community Bat Program, in collaboration with the Province of B.C., is asking the public to report any dead bats in an effort to determine the distribution of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS).

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WNS is a fungal disease harmless to humans but responsible for the deaths of millions of insect-eating bats in North America. WNS began in the east but was detected in Washington State in March 2016.

To monitor the spread of this disease, Community Bat Program coordinators have been collecting reports of unusual winter bat activity across southern B.C. and ensuring that dead bats are sent to the Canadian Wildlife Health Centre lab for disease testing. Information gained from dead bats and reports of live bats can help determine the extent of the disease, and determine priorities for conservation efforts.

Fortunately, no WNS has been reported in the province of BC to-date.

Spring conditions now mean increased bat activity – and an increased chance of detecting the disease. As bats begin to leave hibernacula and return to their summer grounds, our chances of seeing live or dead bats increases, and the Community Bat Program is continuing to ask for assistance.

“We are asking the public to report dead bats or any sightings of daytime bat activity to the Community Bat Project as soon as possible.” at 1-855-922-2287 says Vivian Birch-Jones of the Lillooet Naturalist Society vivianbj@telus.net and a member of the BC Community Bat Program.

Never touch a bat with your bare hands as bats can carry rabies, a deadly disease. Please note that if you or your pet has been in direct contact with a bat, immediately contact your local public health authority or consult with your veterinarian.

Currently there are no treatments for White-Nose Syndrome. However, mitigating other threats to bat populations and preserving and restoring bat habitat may provide bat populations with the resilience to rebound.

This is where the BC Community Bat Program and the general public can help.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Province of B.C., and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the BC Community Bat Program works with the government and others on public outreach activities, public reports of roosting bats in buildings, and our citizen-science bat monitoring program.

To contact the BC Community Bat Program, visit www.bcbats.ca, email info@bcbats.ca or call 1-855-922-2287.

Vivian Birch-Jones added, “In Lillooet we are lucky to have a great deal of bat habitat and the Lillooet Naturalists and Splitrock Environmental have been working on enhancing that through building and installing bat houses including the recent completion of a condominium at the Lower Spawning channel.”

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