There’s still time to participate in the BC Bat Watch program this summer. Bat Watch is a citizen science program that annually monitors bat roost sites in BC. Abandoned houses, barns, church steeples –even occupied structures – can provide summer homes for female bats and their young. Monitoring these “maternity colonies” helps biologists figure out how regional bat populations are doing from year to year. With the recent emergence of White-nose Syndrome in North America, monitoring these colonies is more important than ever. HCTF is proud to support this program through a grant to the BC Conservation Foundation (project 0-476).
The “Got Bats” initiative is encouraging anyone who knows of a local bat roost to participate as a bat counter. The counts themselves are pretty simple: you’ll need to arrive at the roost at sunset, and tally the bats on a data sheet as they fly out for their nightly insect-eating. Ideally, participants will be available to conduct four bat counts per summer ‐ two between June 1 and 21 (before pups can fly) and two more between July 21 and August 15 (when pups are flying and exiting the roost). Completing all four bat counts will best allow biologists to compare data from year to year and between sites. However, there are also options for participating on a smaller scale if you are unable to do four counts:
- Level 1 Bat Reporter : Complete one count over the summer (try between July 21 – August 15)
- Level 2 Bat Tracker: Complete one count between June 1 – 21 and one count between July 21 ‐ August 15
- Level 3 Bat Enthusiast: Complete two counts between June 1 – 21 and 2 counts between July 21 – August 15
You can download full instructions and a data recording sheet here.
You can also report a colony of bats on the BC Community Bat Programs website. If you’re looking to have the colony removed, the project biologist in your region will contact you to discuss developing a conservation-based strategy for removing the bats without hurting them (or you). They are also very happy to hear from landowners who are content to have bat colonies remain on their land: the project team can provide you with information on monitoring the colony and identifying the species (please note all 16 BC bat species are protected under the Provincial Wildlife Act).