By June Pretzer.
Brand new bat colony discovered! In June this year volunteer Jenn Barret and members of SCBAT (South Coast Bat Action Team) discovered a new bat colony at the Vancouver Rowing Club (VRC) in Stanley Park. We’ll be monitoring this colony of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus ) and working with VRC to ensure the health of everyone! Bats included!
Bats are one of those mysterious creatures that make you duck when one flies by, but really they’re innocuous little beings that live in our forests, sometimes homes, and do good work for our ecology and ourselves. What’s great about bats? They eat tons of insects that damage forests and agricultural crops, pollinate flowers, and disperse seeds. But now these important animals are under threat.
North American bats, beginning first in Eastern North America and slowly spreading across the continent, are dying from White Nose disease, caused by a fungus originating in Europe and likely introduced to North America by cave visitors to Europe and the US. Spores cling to feet and clothing and are spread between individual bats. Instead of hibernating peacefully, affected bats rouse frequently; this disturbed state depletes their store of water, electrolytes, and fat. They commonly don’t make it through the winter.
To aid conservation, the Federal Government has added three species to the Wildlife Species at Risk in Canada: the little brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), the northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) and the tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus). One of these species, the little brown, is found in Stanley Park (Rutherford & Sinclair 2009).
While bats here are not affected as yet, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) listing stresses the importance of conservation, research, and especially identifying and protecting roosting habitat. Bats roost together in spring and summer to pup and raise young, then in winter to hibernate. You might have a roost yourself or know where one is. If so, you can contact South Coast Bat Action Team at https://batsc.wordpress.com/
How can you help?
- Prevent the spread of fungus, refrain from accessing caves in winter months
- Protect bat colonies in your buildings
- Decontaminate after entering buildings/caves/mines
- Report bat presence to SCBAT at https://batsc.wordpress.com.