The BC Bat Count will take place in June 2022. (J. Saremba photo)

The BC Bat Count will take place in June 2022. (J. Saremba photo)

Volunteers sought for Okanagan bat count

Bat counts help biologists better understand the local bat population and monitor for white-nose syndrome

Insects are buzzing with the arrival of spring, which means there’s also plenty of bats coming home to their summer roosts in the Okanagan.

A simple way to support the local bat population is to take part in the annual B.C. Bat Count this June. The BC Community Bat Program is in need of colony reports and volunteer help.

One of the Okanagan’s bat species that’s commonly found in buildings and bat boxes is the Little Brown Myotis, which, like all B.C. bats, plays an essential ecological role, consuming many insect pests each night.

The Little Brown Myotis is now endangered in Canada. In fact, bats in B.C. suffer from many threats, and almost half of our 15 species are ‘at-risk,’ according to Okanagan Region Coordinator Paula Rodriguez de la Vega.

The citizen-science initiative encourages residents to volunteer to count bats at local roost sites.

The program, funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, is described as an easy, fun and safe activity, that’s also vital for monitoring bat populations.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats, and be involved in collecting important scientific information,” said Rodriguez de la Vega.

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site such as a bat-box, barn or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. A fecal sample can also be sent in to identify the bat species.

“Some of the locations where we do bat counts are public sites like Sun Oka Provincial Park, Okanagan Lake South Provincial Park, the Peachland Historic Schoolhouse, and Fintry Provincial Park” said Rodriguez de la Vega. “While others are private homes, barns, or bat boxes.”

The counts help biologists better understand the bat population and monitor for white-nose system, a devastating bat disease that can be fatal for bats but not for humans or other animals.

White-nose system hasn’t yet been found in B.C. but it’s continuously spreading in nearby Washington State.

The Okanagan Region has bat count sites from Osoyoos to Vernon, and from Princeton to Grand Forks.

For more information, click here.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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