Leah Riehl, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute
BATS! Why bats? Because they need our help! Bats provide essential ecological services to humans, particularly the control of insect populations. This is important to anyone looking to get outside to enjoy summer nights!
Bats begin to emerge from hibernation in the spring, and they emerge hungry and preparing to have their young, which are called pups. These small mammals can eat up to one thousand insects in a single hour, and up to their body weight in insects each night.
Formerly a common sight on a Nova Scotia summer night, bat populations have been decimated by habitat loss and white-nose syndrome, an invasive fungus that wakes sleeping bats from hibernation. The disease has caused millions of mortalities in native bat species such as the little brown bat, northern long eared bat, and tricoloured bat, all of which are now endangered in Nova Scotia.
Have you seen any bats this year? Through the help of keen observers, we can conserve at-risk bats! Anyone in Atlantic Canada can report bat sightings or ask related questions by calling 1-833-434-BATS (1-833-434-2287). In Nova Scotia, reports can be made online at batconservation.ca or by calling the provincial Species at Risk Hotline at 1-866-727-3447.
You can also help with bat conservation efforts by maintaining bat habitat on your property. This includes minimizing pesticide use, protecting water quality, and leaving dead trees standing. If you have a bat box on your property, you can become a citizen scientist by gathering data on the effectiveness of bat boxes. Visit this link to read about how you can participate in a Canada-wide bat box study: bit.ly/CBC_BatBoxStudy.
Photo: stock image