Awarded to Wildlife Conservation Society Canada to help landowners protect their bat colonies through a variety of actions, ranging from disease surveillance and ensuring safe bat boxes are in place to testing and applying a prophylaxis treatment that has been developed.

PROPONENT: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCSC)

DESCRIPTION: Populations of many species in eastern North America have plummeted to a small fraction of their pre-2006 population numbers, the year white-nose syndrome (WNS) was discovered. WNS is an invasive fungal disease that has killed an unprecedented number of bats (>98.5% for some species) in North America (USFWS 2019). This fungus was first discovered in northwestern Washington in 2016, and in 2019 was found on the east side of the Cascade Mountains (Washington Fish and Wildlife 2019), now threatening to enter the Columbia River drainage, through which bats are thought to migrate from BC. Accounting for almost 20% of BC’s small mammal diversity, bats face unprecedented threats and without intervention, declines could drastically impact biodiversity.

Bats are the primary consumer of insects including moths, beetles, and caterpillars, some of which are pests on forests, gardens, and crops. This is especially important in the Kootenay Lake region where farms, and notably organic farms, benefit economically from natural bat pest-control services. Conservation of local Kootenay Lake populations of bats are important for realized benefits to landowners; as we transition into an era where the survival of each bat counts, our project aims to help landowners protect their bat colonies through a variety of actions, ranging from disease surveillance and ensuring safe bat boxes are in place to testing and applying a prophylaxis treatment that has been developed. This project aims to help landowners protect their bat colonies through a variety of actions, ranging from disease surveillance and ensuring safe bat boxes are in place to testing and applying a prophylaxis treatment that has been developed.

OBJECTIVE: Objectives of this project are to: 1) To continue to build a network of engaged landowners with bats on their land and work with them to actively protect their bats; 2) Establish critical baseline data and locate multispecies roosts by collecting vital data for WNS mitigation planning (eg. WNS probiotic), including bat box characteristics, evaluating health of bats in relation to roost structures, and identifying bridges used by bat species; 3) Synthesise data to develop a database of known roosts, species and approximate colony sizes to prepare a priority map of sites where mitigation measures could be deployed most efficiently and to the greatest effect; and, 4) Replace significant lost roosting habitat by working with the Lower Kootenay Band and Kuskanook Marina Board to build and monitor a new bat condo at the Kuskanook Marina

PHOTOS: WCSC

LEARN MORE

This video provides an excellent overview of the project.