Let's face it: Halloween doesn't do much to help the reputation of bats.
But from Oct. 24 to 31, conservation groups worldwide are hoping to counter that narrative during International Bat Week.
Bat Week is about appreciating the animals and bringing light to their many benefits, including eating insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds and nutrients.
In Whistler and the Sea to Sky, residents are encouraged to plant vegetation like native trees, shrubs, or flowers on their property, as well as light-coloured and night-blooming flowers, which will support insect populations that bats in British Columbia like to eat.
“Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards, but now bats need our help,” said Danielle Dagenais, regional bat coordinator for the Metro Vancouver-Squamish Community Bat Project, in a release.
“Providing safe and healthy habitat for bats has always been important since over half the species in this province are considered at risk. With the continuing spread of White-nose Syndrome in Washington State, bat conservation is more important than ever as we expect to see impacts in BC in the near future."
Bats worldwide have been facing a wave of issues in recent decades. Habitat loss from agriculture, urbanization, diseases such as white-nose syndrome, and pressures from hunting have led to bat population declines in many countries.
Controlling invasive plant species helps insects and bats thrive, the release said. Residents are encouraged to consider doing a weed pull in their yard, lane-way, or local park or wetland. You can find more information on bat-friendly gardening through the Community Bat Program’s Bat-friendly Communities Guide.
Bat Week tends to mark the time of year when bats migrate from British Columbia south until the return of warmer weather in the spring. As insect-eaters, B.C. bats must leave their summer roost sites and migrate or hibernate to survive the winter, the release said, adding that their absence offers an opportunity to do renovations or cleaning without disturbing or injuring bats during winter.
Residents are encouraged to report winter bat sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Monitoring for white-nose syndrome in B.C. will continue this winter, with Community Bat Programs requesting reports of dead bats or sightings of winter bat activity.
Find out more about the BC Community Bat Program, Bat Week activities, and options for helping local bat populations at www.bcbats.ca.