It can be tricky finding a safe place to live nowadays if you’re a bat. Habitat loss due to development and deforestation have reduced bats’ options for finding suitable homes. Three out of the ten bat bat species found on Vancouver Island are considered at risk. With the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered and both Townsend’s Big-eared (Corynorhinus townsendii) and Keen’s Myotis (Myotis Keenii) Bats provincially blue-listed as species of special concern.
Habitat Acquisition Trust’s (HAT) Bat Stewardship Program helps people on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands care for bats by providing bats with the habitat they need. Through the Bat Program HAT has collaborated with community members to install 90 bat boxes to provide safe bat habitat in our region. species found on Vancouver Island are considered at risk. With the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered and both Townsend’s Big-eared (Corynorhinus townsendii) and Keen’s Myotis (Myotis Keenii) Bats provincially blue-listed as species of special concern.
Every summer HAT administers the BC Community Bat Program’s Bat Count on South Vancouver Island. This year, 39 volunteers and HAT staff counted 5,951 bats at 16 colonies over the course of 4 summer evenings. The Bat Count strengthens knowledge on bat health and how populations fluctuate through citizen science.
“I sit at my picnic table with a cup of tea from where it’s effortless to count our colony of Little Brown Bats emerging from the box,” comments HAT bat box recipient and bat counter, Carmel Thomson
A single bat can eat more than their own body weight in insects in a single night. That’s a lot of bugs! Farmers benefit from bat’s nightly feeding frenzy by a reduced need for pestisides. Bats also distribute nitrogen with their guano, which is an excellent fertilizer.
With the detection of White Nose Syndrome in nearby Washington State bats, and the death toll by this disease elsewhere in North America in the millions, ensuring that we have healthy bat populations are more crucial than ever. In spite of this, the HAT Bat Program did not receive this year’s anticipated funding.
The popularity of the Bat Program and local interest in bats exploded over the past year. Bats can’t afford to lose our momentum. With that in mind, HAT is reaching out to the community with a fundraising campaign to continue its important work with local bats. You can support the “HAT for Bats” fundraiser by sponsoring a bat colony for $345, which covers the cost of building, delivering and installing a box that can support hundreds of bats (Photo right: HAT Biologist Christian Engelstoft installs a bat box at Habitat Steward's home). Community members can also team up with HAT to fundraise by collecting donations from their friends and neighbours or hosting their own mini-fundraiser event.
“Our goal is to raise $3,000 for these incredible flying mammals by 2017. When the community comes together creatively, I know we can rise to the challenge,” - HAT Community and Development Coordinator, Alanah Nasadyk.
Donations can be made: online, in person at the HAT Office on 825 Broughton, by phone at 250-995-2428, or by mail to PO Box 8552 Victoria BC V8W 3S2.
HAT’s efforts have been funded primarily by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Environment Canada, and supported by the BC Conservation Foundation. With increased need for bat protection, we are requesting additional funds to provide necessary habitat protection for bats. These funds will allow HAT to install bat boxes, provide advice to residents with bats, and help coordinate efforts by Citizen Scientists like you to count and monitor our local bat populations.