Keep an eye out for B.C. bats: researchers 

White-nose syndrome has yet to reach B.C.

click to enlarge A hibernating Little Brown Bat showing visible signs of the fungus. - Photo: ALAN HICKS/NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
  • A hibernating Little Brown Bat showing visible signs of the fungus. Photo: ALAN HICKS/NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Just 150 kilometres south of the B.C.-U.S. border is the white-nose syndrome, the fungal disease credited with the deaths of millions of bats.

While the disease has yet to spread to B.C., the BC Community Bat Program is asking the public to help track the disease.

"Detection of WNS in B.C. is challenging because our bats hibernate alone or in small groups across the province" Mandy Kellner, provincial co-ordinator with the BC Community Bat Program, said in a press release. "To monitor the spread of the disease, we need more eyes on the ground. Outdoor enthusiasts and homeowners with roosts on their property may be the first to find evidence of trouble."

To help, report any sightings of dead bats or winter bat activity, making sure to note where and when the activity was. The bodies of dead bats will be tested for the disease. Make sure never to touch a bat with your bare hands. Follow the guidelines of www.bcbats.ca if you must move one.

It's not out of the ordinary to see bats during warmer winter days or evenings, when they may be catching bugs. Sleeping bats should be left alone, the organization recommends. You can instead snap a photo and report the sighting.

WNS is nearly 100 per cent fatal for bats, although it does not affect humans. There are currently no treatments for the disease, but preserving and restoring bat habitat may help bats rebound from the disease.

Make reports to www.bcbats.ca, vancouver@bcbats.ca or 1-855-922-2287 ext. 11.

This story originally appeared here.

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