Bat week raises awareness on local conservation efforts

Friday, October 27th presentation at the Invermere Lions Club

‘Bat Week’ is on its way to the Valley with Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) biologist Leigh Anne Isaac preparing to give a talk on the subject at the Lions Club Hall on Friday, October 27th, just in time for Halloween.

Ms. Isaac will be giving an overview of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) and bat ecology, as well as tips on how to conserve bats native to the Columbia Valley, while dispelling myths about the nocturnal creatures.

“Bats provide a wide variety of eco-system services. They kill bugs and mosquitoes and are essential for agriculture and growing crops. Bats are pest consumers and do a lot of services at night,” she said.

After its inception in 2004, KCBP was instrumental in bringing awareness locally to bat conservation, “conducting inventories of bats in buildings, working with landowners who have bats, and promoting the annual Bat Count.”

Government and private agencies are also coming together to help bat populations combat WNS, which causes death in the species. The deadly disease wiped out 7 million bats in the U.S. alone before it migrated to Canada in April of 2016, according to Ms. Isaac.

A fungus found in bat dwelling caves causes the disease and the spread of it could have serious ramifications to the environment with bats reproducing at a slow rate.

“Bats are not in the rodent family like many people think and they are genetically more related to us — they produce one pup a year and with WNS killing 79 to 99 per cent of bats, repopulating will take a long time, so we will be working with folks to mitigate those issues,” said Ms. Isaac.

The presentation has been made possible with help from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund and the Lake Windermere District Rod & Gun Club. It is scheduled to take place from 7-8 p.m. Admission is free.

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