With the majority of scientists pegging the origin of COVID-19 on bats, the winged creatures have developed a bit of a bad rap this year.
But, as International Bat Week (Oct. 24 to 31) approaches, the B.C. Community Bat Program is hoping to dispel fear and get people more interested in the nocturnal critters.
Bats actually have all kinds of benefits for people, explained Mandy Kellner, coordinator for the B.C. Community Bat Program, in a press release.
Not only do they feed on all kinds of pesky bugs, bats also pollinate the agave plant used to make tequila.
“Bats in B.C. help control agricultural and forest pests, as well as mosquitoes in our yards — but now bats need our help,” Kellner said.
More than half the bat species in B.C. are considered at risk and even more could be in trouble in the near future.
A fungal disease called white-nose syndrome has been spreading through Washington State and with no known treatment or means to prevent transmission, it could soon be impacting B.C. bats as well.
Luckily, there are several ways that people can help.
The B.C. Bat Program recommends people research bats online, host an educational event, help restore a wetland, learn about bat-friendly lighting and prepare a bat box for next spring.
Bat boxes are a similar concept to bird houses — made to mimic the space between bark and a tree trunk where bats would ideally roost, the boxes offer the creatures an artificial home to stay in. Like bird houses, the boxes are also a simple DIY project.
Because bats are insect-eaters, they must migrate or hibernate during the winter months. The B.C. Bat Program said this makes winter the ideal time for home owners to do renovations that may have disturbed the creatures in warmer months.
It also asks that if anyone does see a bat during the winter, they report it to firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-922-2287.
To kickoff Bat Week, the Habitat Acquisition Trust is hosting an educational walk and scavenger hunt through the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific gardens on Oct. 24. A total of 24 people will be allowed to attend and can register online.
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