B.C. bats not to blame for COVID-19: These creatures need our help - InfoNews

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B.C. bats not to blame for COVID-19: These creatures need our help

Townsend’s Big-eared Bat is one of the species counted during the BC Annual Bat Count.
Image Credit: Aimee Mitchell
May 16, 2020 - 1:00 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a negative spotlight on bats, due to concerns over B.C. bats carrying the virus according to the BC Bat Community Program.

This association is a myth - B.C. bats do not have or spread the virus COVID-19, but they do need our help as a deadly bat-killing disease has been found south of our border, according to the program in a news release.

“in B.C. bats suffer from many threats, and almost half of our 15 species are ‘at-risk.’ One of the more familiar species, the Lille Brown Myootis, is now endangered in Canada,” according to the release.

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But B.C. residents can help our native bat population by participating in an annual bat count this June. The BC Community Bat Program is requesting colony reports and volunteer assistance to count bats at local roost sites.

In 2019, the annual Bat Count collected baseline data on bat populations at 337 sites across the province including from locations in the Okanagan and Thompson-Nicola.

ideally, one to two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one to two more are performed between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying, according to the news release.

The count data helps bat biologists understand bat distribution and normal variation in colony sizes before our bats face impacts from a devastating bat disease called white-nose syndrome.

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White-nose syndrome is an introduced fungal disease, fatal for bats but not for other animals or humans.

Not yet identified in B.C., the disease continues to spread in Washington State, less than 200 km from our border. Results from the bat count may help prioritize areas in B.C. for research into treatment options and recovery actions, according to the news release.

To find out more information, visit the BC Bat’s website. To report a dead bat or to deal with bat-related issues  1-855-9BC-BATS, ext. 21 or email thompson@bcbats.ca.

 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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