Specialists seeking bat information

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BY PETER OMMUNDSEN

Special to the Driftwood

An international bat survey, the North American Bat Monitoring Program, is sampling bats on Salt Spring Island.

Salt Spring has an abundance of bats of 10 different species, which are important predators of agricultural pests and mosquitoes. North American bats have a low reproductive rate and face numerous threats, including the deadly bat fungus called white nose syndrome that is sweeping across North America.

The monitoring program samples bats using electronic bat detectors left at various locations on the island, and detectors are also mounted on vehicles that are driven along roads at night. Survey results help map bat population trends across North America and help identify areas of important habitat.

Salt Spring also hosts the provincial community bat program, and biologists are available year-round to visit landowners to identify resident bats using detectors and DNA sampling of bat guano. Biologists can help with bat habitat stewardship, including wetlands, and the bat program also collects dead bats, which are sent for laboratory analysis. Biologists are interested to learn of bat colonies and of occupied bat houses and to receive results of evening counts of bats emerging from buildings or other bat roosts.

The Salt Spring bat program can be reached via email, saltspring@bcbats.ca, and via 24-hour phone, 1-855-922-2287, extension 16.

The community bat program is funded in part by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the BC Conservation Foundation. The bat program is no longer associated with the Salt Spring Island Conservancy.

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