Little brown bat wing with White Nose Syndrome. (submitted)

Public help wanted in Cowichan to keep eye on bat disease

White Nose Syndrome responsible for the deaths of millions of bats; could become factor on Island

The Thetis Island Nature Conservancy is asking for the public’s help with monitoring for White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in the Chemainus area, and on Thetis and Penelakut Islands.

WNS is a fungal disease responsible for the death of millions of bats in eastern North America which has been confirmed in Washington State. Although devastating for bats, WNS does not affect humans.

Because so little is known about where B.C. bats hibernate, researchers with the B.C. Community Bat Program are turning to the public for assistance in monitoring for the disease.

The typical first sign is bats flying during the winter, an unusual sighting at a time of year when bats are hibernating. Another sign of the presence of WNS is the appearance of dead bats as they succumb to the effects. Bat carcasses will be submitted for testing for White Nose Syndrome and would provide the earliest indication of the presence of the disease in B.C.

Reports of winter bat activity will help focus research, monitoring and protection efforts.

If you find a dead bat, report it to the CBP (1-855-922-2287, ext. 24 or info@bcbats.ca) as soon as possible for further information. People should never touch a dead bat with bare hands.

Any person or pet that’s been in direct contact with a bat will need further information regarding the risk of rabies.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Province of B.C., and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the B.C. Community Bat Program works with the government and others on public outreach activities, public reports of roosting bats in buildings, and a citizen-science bat monitoring program.

To contact the BC Community Bat Program, see www.bcbats.ca, email info@bcbats.ca or call 1-855-922-2287, ext. 24.

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