As Halloween approaches, local cyclists keen on our furry night-flying insect controllers are planning the Big Bat Bike Ride for October 29 dressed as bats. The goal is to raise awareness and funds about the plight of our bats and to collect pledges to adopt local bat colonies through the HAT for Bats Campaign.
Paige Erickson-McGee and Alanah Nasadyk are leading the Batty Bike Crew in costume on the 50 kilometre bike ride from Centennial Square to MyChosen Café in Metchosin, departing at 11:00am. Everyone is welcome to join, bat costumes are encouraged but optional. There is a 4 km pup ride from the Square along the Galloping Goose Trail to the Selkirk Trestle for those smaller riders, or join for all or part of the full 50 km ride to Metchosin and back.
“Who isn’t a little intrigued by bats? Our local bat populations are in trouble and they need our help. We can all make a difference to bats, and we hope to raise $1,000.00 for the HAT for Bats Campaign and spread the word about how important our bats are to us. They eat all those mosquitoes eating us! An important natural pest control” says Paige Erickson-McGee, co-leader of the Big Bat Bike Ride.
The funds raised will go towards the HAT for Bats Campaign, with the goal to raise at least $1,000.00 to protect local bat colonies at risk of being removed or destroyed.
Habitat Acquisition Trust is reaching out to the community with this campaign to continue its important work with local bats. You can support the HAT for Bats fundraiser by sponsoring a bat colony for $100.00, which covers the cost of building a bat house that can support up to 200 bats.
Community members can also team up with HAT to fundraise by collecting donations from their friends and neighbours, hosting their own mini-fundraiser event, or create a donation box to be carried during trick-or-treating.
Why do bats need homes? It can be tricky finding a safe place to live nowadays if you’re a bat. Habitat loss and loss of old dead trees due to development and deforestation have reduced bats’ options for finding suitable homes.
Three out of the ten bat species found on Vancouver Island are considered at risk of eventually being lost forever if they remain on their current trajectory. 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.
Why are bats taking shelter in human-built structures? The primary reason is a loss of natural roosting habitat in the form of large old hollow trees. Many of these trees are removed during development or cleared in parks as a safety precaution to avoid injury by falling trees.
In the winter, local bats have been reported to hibernate in caves or abandoned mines, at specific locations on Southern Vancouver Island are unknown.
The Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) was emergency listed as Endangered on the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2014 because of sudden and dramatic declines across the eastern portions of the ranges.
These declines are the direct result of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in eastern North America during their winter hibernation. It is currently not known to exist in bat colonies west of the Rockies, but detected in Washington State and expected to arrive in BC imminently.
Residents from Southern Vancouver Island are urged to contact Habitat Acquisition Trust at the BC Community Bat Program Hotline: 1-855-9BC-BATS ext 12 if bats are seen hibernating this winter.
“Programs like this have been in place to collect information from the public on bat populations in BC with the intention of aiding in the conservation of bats and their habitats” says Mandy Kellner, Coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program. “Reports from citizen scientists about bat hibernacula are extremely important for bat conservation in the province.”
Find the event on Facebook: Big Bat Bike Ride
Sponsor the riders on their own page: Big Bat Bike Ride Fundraiser