An influx of reports of bat sightings on the Semiahmoo Peninsula has spurred the BC Community Bat Program to once again ask residents to be on the lookout for the winged mammals as it tries to combat white-nose syndrome, which threatens to enter the province from Washington.
On Sunday, the Community Bat Program issued a news release announcing the recent sightings, while adding that communities that border the United States – White Rock, South Surrey, Delta, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack – are “key to helping our program monitor WNS” which threatens the local bat population.
Recent winter sightings of bats may be a sign of the disease, the release notes.
White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that kills a large number of bats each winter and has caused three Canadian bat species to become endangered. The fungus grows on the bats and causes them to wake from sleep. The bats then seek food and water to replenish fat reserves to continue their hibernation, but many die as they succumb to dehydration and starvation, as food and water are scarce in winter.
The BC Community Bat Program is encouraging people to report winter bat sightings and to retain any dead bats they come across for retrieval. Do not touch a dead bat with your bare hands, the release notes.
“Dead bats provide very valuable information and will help us track the spread of white-nose syndrome once it enters B.C.,” said regional co-ordinator Danielle Dagenais.
Bat sightings and dead bats can be reported to the program online, at bcbats.ca/index.php/got-bats/report-your-bats or by phone at 1-855-922-2287 (ext. 11).
“Not every winter bat sighting is cause for concern,” continued Dagenais. “Bats may be seen on warm winter evenings. Healthy bats may wake up to drink or even eat if insects are active. Bats may also become active following a disturbance near their hibernation site.”