The Kootenay Community Bat Project is seeking volunteers in Creston willing to count bats.
“We have some places in the Kootenays that are not really covered by volunteers but there are some bat colonies found there that need to be counted,” says co-ordinator Elodie Kuhnert.
Doing a bat count, she explains, consists of standing or sitting in front of a bat roost at dusk and counting how many bats are coming out.
“The roosts are already there,” she says. “Most of the times they’re in buildings, sheds, or homemade structures. Sometimes they’re also in bat boxes.”
Most of the time property owners will check on their own bats, she says, but they aren’t always able to count on their own because some roosts have more than one exit, so they need help from volunteers.
Counts are conducted four times per season — twice before the baby bats start flying and twice afterward — which Kuhnert says is a good number to get an idea of how a colony is doing.
Bats can be found throughout the Kootenays, she says, including on Kootenay Lake and in the Columbia and Slocan valleys.
Kuhnert says they are keeping a watchful eye to detect any sign locally of White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats.
She says it has not shown up in BC, but it’s getting very close as it has been found in Washington state and eastern provinces of Canada.
They are asking people who have bats to let them know when they return this spring. Bats that develop the syndrome get it during the winter, so the date of their arrival is a clue.
They also ask you to report all dead or sick bats to them. You can email [email protected] or call 1-855-922-2287, ext. 14 with your observations. You can also use this online form to report bat observation. Until the end of May, any dead bat will be sent to be tested for White-nose syndrome.