(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

Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Merritt Centennials split thrilling double-header

One game ended in overtime, the other in a high-scoring final period. Both were a treat for fans.

In Photos: Salmon Arm residents pay tribute

Residents gather at cenotaph for Remembrance Day ceremony

Sockeye salmon return to Okanagan Lake for first time in decades

Restoration of fish ladder damaged more than 50 years ago enables return

Shuswap family makes tradition of tending to grave of fallen soldier

Grandchildren learn importance of Remembrance Day while paying their respect

Community meeting will discuss crime in South Shuswap communities

The meeting will be held on Nov. 27 in Blind Bay.

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

In Photos: Sicamous remembers

A crowd numbering in the hundreds gathered at Sicamous cenotaph on Nov. 11.

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector drivers cautioned due to freezing rain

Special weather statement in effect for highways between Hope, Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna

Summerland council considers change to meeting schedule

Proposal calls for afternoon session and 6 p.m. evening session for regular meetings

Last remaining Centurion tank from the Korean War makes its journey ‘home’ to B.C.

Tank arrives in B.C. the day before Remembrance Day after a more than 4,500-kilometre transfer

Most Read