(Alan Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Government seeks help to monitor for bat disease in Okanagan

Reports of winter bat activity will help focus research, monitoring and protection efforts.

B.C. bats are threatened by disease, and researchers are again asking for the public to help.

White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease responsible for the death of millions of bats in eastern North America, has moved to the west coast.

Confirmed in Washington State just 150 km south of the BC-US border, the presence of the fungus is very worrisome for the health of bat populations. The disease has near 100 per cent mortality for some species of bats exposed to the fungus, including the familiar Little Brown Bat. WNS does not affect humans.

Related: Keeping track of bats in the Okanagan

Related: Go batty for Bat Week in the Okanagan

The BC Community Bat Program in collaboration with the BC government is requesting the public’s help in monitoring the spread of this disease.

“We believe that our bats hibernate in relatively small groups across the province” said Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan program coordinator with the BC Community Bat Program. “Detecting WNS in our province will require many eyes on the ground”.

The typical first sign of this disease is bats flying during the winter, an unusual sighting at a time of year when bats should be hibernating. Another sign of the presence of WNS is the appearance of dead bats outdoors as they succumb to the effects of WNS.

“We are encouraging the public to report dead bats or any sightings of winter bat activity to the Community Bat Project toll-free phone number, website, or email. Bat carcasses will be submitted for testing for White Nose Syndrome and would provide the earliest indication of the presence of the disease in BC,” said Rodriguez de la Vega.

Reports of winter bat activity will help focus research, monitoring and protection efforts.

If you find a dead bat, report it to the CBP (1-855-922-2287 ext. 13 or okanagan@bcbats.ca) as soon as possible for further information.

Authorities also remind people to never touch a dead bat with your bare hands. If you or your pet has been in direct contact with the bat you will need further information regarding the risk of rabies to you and your pet.

Currently, there are no treatments for White Nose Syndrome. However, mitigating other threats to bat populations and preserving and restoring bat habitat may provide bat populations with the resilience to rebound. This is where the BC Community Bat Program and the general public can help.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Province of BC, the Habitat Stewardship Program, and the South Okanagan Conservation Fund, the BC Community Bat Program in the Okanagan works with the government and others on public outreach activities, public reports of roosting bats in buildings, and our citizen-science bat monitoring program.

To contact the BC Community Bat Program, see www.bcbats.ca, email okanagan@bcbats.ca or call 1-855-922-2287 ext. 13.

Related: Learn more about bats

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna classroom where child allegedly overdosed re-opens after cleaning

An 8-year-old was unresponsive and unable to walk after ingesting an unknown substance at school.

Video: Rain doesn’t deter Terry Fox runners in Salmon Arm

Dozens showed up to continue the Canadian icon’s marathon of hope.

Friends and family gather for Parkinson SuperWalk in Salmon Arm

Word on the street: How has Parkinson’s Disease affected you or your family?

Vote online to help light up the Larch Hills

Larch Hills Nordic Society competing for Kraft Heinz Project Play funding

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Road block was costly legal battle for Summerland

Resolving Garnet Valley dispute took six years

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Most Read