Bats in and around the North Okanagan are being closely monitored, as the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS) has been detected in Grand Forks, B.C.
The fungus, called Pd, does not cause disease in humans and pets, but has decimated the bat population in North America. The fungus attacks bats while they are hibernating, growing on their faces to give the appearance of a white nose. Bats often wake to clean the fungus from their skin. This uses valuable energy, and eventually, the bats die from starvation.
“Across North America, millions of bats have been killed, and seven of our 15 BC species could be severely affected by the disease,” said Megan Olson, North Okanagan coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program.
“The Little Brown Myotis and the Northern Myotis are both listed as endangered in Canada due to WNS. Though there is not yet a proven cure for WNS, several promising treatment options are being developed, and it may be possible to mitigate the effects of this wildlife health crisis.”
Until May 31, the B.C. Community Bat Program is asking the public for help, in an effort to detect and prevent the spread of WNS. Residents are encouraged to report any activity of dead or sick bats.
There have not been any bats with WNS found to date in B.C., but the detection of Pd, the fungus that causes it, was confirmed last year,” said Olson.
“Increasing the number of bat reports from the public is the best chance to understand how WNS might spread and affect local bat populations.”