Dispelling bat myths...and offering programs for area youth
Are bats really blind? Do they want to suck your blood? These are some of the questions that Educators around the Columbia Basin are answering. Just in time for Halloween, dynamic and skilled Educators from the Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) are providing programs on bats for youth.
“Bats are actually very shy, clean creatures” says Juliet Craig, Coordinating Biologist for the KCBP. “There are so many myths about bats. They are extremely beneficial in eating nocturnal flying insects including mosquitoes, and cycling nutrients from wetlands to upland forests”.
Through a partnership with the KCBP and Wild Voices for Kids, Educators are able to provide free school programs to teach children about the amazing worlds of bats including their unique features, their role in ecosystems, and our local bat species. Students will get a virtual tour of bats from around the world, eavesdrop on their echolocation calls, and explore current issues in bat conservation.
“Half of the bat species in BC are at risk” says Craig. “With the approach of White Nose Syndrome, a disease that has been decimating bat populations in eastern North America, it is more important than ever to get communities involved in bat conservation, including our youth.”
Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, the KCBP approaches bat conservation in a number of ways including assisting land owners with bat issues, promoting the Annual Bat Count to monitor populations, and promoting the installation of bat-houses. To date, the KCBP has provided almost 500 visits to local residents, and identified over 350 roost sites for seven bat species.
To find out more about the Kootenay Community Bat Project, visit www.kootenaybats.com or contact 1-855-9BC-BATS. Teachers can book a school program through Wild Voices for Kids at cbeen.org/wvfk/teachers/.
Juliet Craig is a Registered Professional Biologist with Silverwing Ecological Consulting.