Scientists Tracking Bats – Details

Updated: April 18, 2016
Scientists tracking bats

Wildlife officials are urging British Columbians to report unusual bat activity in the province after a diseased bat was found near Seattle.

The Ministry of the Environment says experts are concerned that White Nose Syndrome could spread to bat species in B.C., although it has not been detected in the province yet.

In March 2016, the first recorded occurrence of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) was confirmed in western North America. WNS was found in a dead bat just eat of Seattle, Washington. Scientists in B.C. are working with the neighbouring jurisdiction to respond to the issue. To date, the disease has not been detected in the province, but experts are concerned the disease could spread to bat species in the province sooner than expected.

Officials say WNS is not a threat to human health. British Columbia officials are working to understand bat behaviour and use of habitat in B.C. to help design strategies to protect bats and help them recover from the effects of the disease. Experts are encouraging British Columbians to report the location of any unusual bat activity. This could include bats flying during the day, or finding dead or dying bats, as these may be indications of the disease.

Residents can contact the BC Community Bat Program “Got Bats?” toll free at 1 855-9BC-BAT (1 855-922-2287) to report any sightings. The public is reminded to never handle a dead or dying bat with bare hands, as bats may carry rabies.

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in North America. The disease is caused by a fungus from Eurasia, which was accidentally transported here by humans. The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, invades the skin of hibernating bats and disrupts both their hydration and hibernation cycles.

Hibernating bats awake repeatedly during the winter, burning up limited fat reserves. They often leave hibernation sites in late winter, dehydrated and in search of food, and ultimately dying.