FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -
Hibernating little brown bats - photo by Alan Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – Little Brown Bat hibernating in a cave, showing signs of WNS
Monitoring for bat disease requires help from public
WANTED: Reports of dead bats and of bats flying during winter
Date: 5 March 2019
BC bats are threatened by disease and researchers are asking for the public to help. White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease responsible for the death of millions of bats in eastern North America, has moved to the west coast.
Confirmed in Washington State just 150 km south of the BC-US border, the presence of the fungus is very worrisome for the health of bat populations in British Columbia. The disease has near 100% mortality for some species of bats exposed to the fungus, including the familiar Little Brown Myotis. Although devastating for bats, WNS does not affect humans.
The HAT Bat Program in collaboration with government agencies is requesting the public’s help in monitoring the spread of this disease. “We believe that our bats hibernate in relatively small groups across the province” says Mandy Kellner, the Provincial Coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program. “Detecting WNS in our province will require many eyes on the ground”. The typical first sign of this disease is bats flying during the winter, an unusual sighting at a time of year when bats should be hibernating. Another sign of the presence of WNS is the appearance of dead bats outdoors as they succumb to the effects of WNS.
The public should report dead bats or any sightings of winter bat activity to the Habitat Acquisition Trust Bat Coordinator at the number or email below. “Bat carcasses will be submitted for testing for White Nose Syndrome and would provide the earliest indication of the presence of the disease in BC” says Kellner. Reports of winter bat activity will help focus research, monitoring and protection efforts.
Currently there are no treatments for White Nose Syndrome. However, mitigating other threats to bat populations and preserving and restoring bat habitat may provide bat populations with the resilience to rebound. This is where the BC Community Bat Program and the general public can help.
Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Province of BC, and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the HAT Bat Program works with the government and others on public outreach activities, public reports of roosting bats in buildings, and our citizen-science bat monitoring program.
Estraven Lupino-Smith, Bat Program Coordinator, Habitat Acquisition Trust
Hibernating little brown bats - photo by Alan Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – Little Brown Bats hibernating in a cave, showing signs of WNS
Map: White-nose syndrome occurrence map – by year (2018). Data last uploaded 10/1/2018. Available at https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/resources/map