Volunteers sought for annual Okanagan bat count

Townsend’s Big-eared Bats waiting to be counted.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/J. Craig photo

OKANAGAN - An Okanagan organization is looking for volunteers to go batty - sort of.

The Okanagan Community Bat Program is gearing up for its annual bat count, and could use some volunteers to help count bats at local roost sites.

Program coordinator Paula Rodriguez de la Vega says no special skills are needed, kids can be involved, and the task is easy enough to do out of a deck chair.

“Bat counts are a wonderful way for residents to get involved in collecting important scientific information,” Rodriguez de la Vega says.

Baseline data on bat populations in the Okanagan will be collected this year prior to arrival of White Nose Syndrome in B.C. The fungal disease is estimated to have killed more than six million bats since its discovery in eastern North America 10 years ago, and was detected east of Seattle in March, 2016.

Rodriguez de la Vega says this summer may be the last year a census of bat populations can be obtained before the disease hits bat populations in western Canada. Little is known about Okanagan bats, so information gleaned from the survey will be useful.

She says people interested in counting, but who do not have a roost site on their property, might find a match with a nearby roost, if possible.

Volunteers wait outside a roost site and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions, with one or two counts done between June 1 and 21 before young are born, and one to two more between July 11 and August 5 when young are flying.

For more information, or to register for a bat count, visit www.bcbats.ca, call 1-855-9BC -BATS ext.13, or email okanagan@bcbats.ca

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