Vancouver, BC – Considered by experts to be one of the world’s most misunderstood mammals, a major move is afoot to protect southern British Columbia’s seriously at-risk bat population. B.C. is home to 16 species of bats, half of which are currently listed as at-risk due to one or more conservation concerns, including disease introduced by humans.
With the assistance of a Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) conservation grant, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is currently working to educate the public on the importance of bats, as well as document the locations and health of bat habitat
“We know that healthy forests need bats. They’re key indicators of ecosystem health,” says Andrew de Vries, SFI vice-president, conservation and indigenous relations.
One of the biggest issues facing bats is White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that is causing mass bat die-offs across North America. Human access to bat hibernation sites may spread this pathogen. Additionally, preventing human disturbance to bats during hibernation is critical. When bats are disturbed during hibernation they may abandon their sites, using important energy reserves they need to survive the winter.