White Nose Syndrome puts three species of bats onto endangered list

MARS Moments column May 14

Not sure if you are keeping up on the recent news regarding our local bat species. Perhaps not, but it’s big; and worth paying attention to. The culprit having serious impacts on our bats is called white nose syndrome; a fungus introduced from Europe into eastern Canada.

For some reason, bats in Europe have adapted to this fungus, but North American bats have not. In particular, three bats are being abnormally affected: the little brown bat (yes, it’s the species real name, and it is little and brown), the northern bat (found in mid-eastern to northeastern BC), and the tri-coloured bat (yes….three colours).

The fungus from White Nose Syndrome impacts bats by growing on their nose and face while they hibernate. The fungus itself does not kill the bat; rather it creates enough of an annoyance that the bat comes out of hibernation to clean themselves of the fungus. Each time this occurs they lose precious energy needed to last until spring, which has fatal results. It is thought that the White Nose Syndrom fungus was spread from Europe by scientists and recreational cave explorers.

Recently the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed these three species as endangered.

Currently in B.C., the little brown bat is our most common bat, and is found throughout most of the province, so how can it be endangered? The short answer is that the mortality of bats in eastern Canada has been so severe that it may be the most rapid decline of mammals ever seen in the world (up to 90 per cent mortality in the last five years). Visit the B.C. Got Bats website for more information www.bcbats.ca/

Bats are something we should care about, given the number of services they provide. They are voracious predators of mosquitos and black flies for one, but they also prey on a number of other insect pests that affect our forests and agriculture. Without bats, the demand for pesticides would likely rise significantly. Other research has indicated a strong role in stream fertilization by bat droppings that have benefit to our local fish species.

The fungus is known to be partially spread by bats (seeing they are a communal species), but it continues to be spread by cave explorers by inadvertently carrying fungal spores on their clothing, equipment and footwear from one cave to another. So one thing we can do is to make other people aware that if they are cave exploring, that they should ensure all of their clothing, equipment and shoes are thoroughly clean. We can also ensure that bat populations are as high as they can be so that they have the numbers to adapt to the effects of white nose syndrome by building bat houses. There is an excellent video for building bat houses at this site: bit.ly/1G4ob6I

MARS receives about 5 calls to help bats every year.  The most important thing is do not handle a bat with your bare hands; wear leather gloves, or preferably throw a towel over the bat and place it in a ventilated box. Finally, if you find an injured bat, call us the Wildlife Rescue Centre and we can pick it up.

We (MARS) will be hosting our AGM on May 30 (Saturday). Please watch for further details over the next few weeks.

To report injured wildlife please call 250-337-2021, to read our latest updates and upcoming events please visit www.wingtips.org. Please consider volunteering or donating monthly to MARS; we rely heavily on your investments in wildlife.

 

 

 

30

Contact Maj Birch

250-337-2021

 

Just Posted

Cumberland council asks for more info on Beacon Project

Some in community concerned about parking, other child care services, neighbourhood look

Boomer Jerritt next North Island College Artist Talk speaker

Acclaimed Comox Valley photographer, artist and world traveller Boomer Jerritt is coming… Continue reading

Courtenay widow turns to Town of Comox for commemorative item to honour late husband

After being turned down by City of Courtenay, Laurance Stratton found Comox more receptive

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

Halloween houses in Courtenay

A number of Courtenay households get into the spirit of Halloween, as… Continue reading

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Comox Valley Community Foundation grant applications total close to $1 million

The Comox Valley Community Foundation received 84 applications for Community Enrichment and… Continue reading

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

Most Read