Bats are essential components of British Columbia’s biodiversity. Outdoor enthusiasts need only look up to the sky at sunset to enjoy the aerial acrobatics of bats as they hunt for insects, an activity that contributes to the health of forest and agricultural ecosystems across the province. Unfortunately, bats are also highly threatened. Half of BC’s bat species are officially listed as species at risk. Key threats to BC bats include habitat loss and degradation, deliberate or accidental human disturbance, environmental contamination, and disease. 

Bat infected with White Nose Syndrome

Bat infected with White Nose Syndrome

There has never been a more important time to focus on the conservation of bats than now. The recent detection of White Nose Syndrome in bats in Washington State has greatly increased the level of threat to British Columbian bats.  This horrific disease the disease affects bats during winter hibernation and infects the skin of bats’ muzzles, ears, and wings with a white fungus.  The infection causes bats to rouse more frequently, using crucial fat stores.  It also disrupts blood chemistry, causing a cascade of physiological disturbances leading to death. The disease typically kills between 70 and 90% of bats in infected hibernation sites. It has already been implicated in the deaths of over 6 million bats in central and eastern North America. Fourteen of BC’s 16 bat species hibernate and would therefore be vulnerable to the pathogen.

So far, there is no effective treatment for White Nose Syndrome. However, building resilient bat populations by protecting habitat and roost sites may help local populations withstand the arrival of the fungus.  Manmade bat houses can plan an important role in providing valuable roosting habitat for BC bats.

How We are Helping Bats

  • Identifying roosts and working with landowners to protect those roosts
  • Where necessary, providing guidance on safe exclusion methods
  • Working with community members to build and install bat houses to increase roosting habitat
  • Participating in the Annual BC Bat Count
  • Monitoring winter bat activity
  • Conducting mist net and acoustic surveys of bats
  • Undertaking surveillance for White Nose Syndrome
  • Collecting dead bats and sending them for testing at the Animal Health Lab
  • Seeking to identify hibernation sites
  • Providing school programs to inform young people about bats
  • Serving on the BC Bat Action Team
  • Participating as a member of the BC Community Bat Programs
  • Distributing education materials about bats

You Can Help

  • Participate in the Annual BC Bat Count
  • Let us know if you have bats roosting on your property
  • Contact us if you have found a dead, sick, or injured bat (do not touch bats with bare hands)
  • Contact us if you observe a bat flying or roosting during the winter
  • Build, install, and monitor a bat house
  • Institute bat-friendly practices on your property - never use pesticides, maintain large old trees and snags, keep natural vegetation
  • Join our free Wildlife Stewardship Program and conserve and enhance habitat for bats and other wildlife on your property

Learn More