• Dave Hobson
  • Martin Davis
  • Cori Lausen
  • Martin Davis
  • Martin Davis
  • Bob Rutherford
  • Cori Lausen
  • Martin Davis
  • Cori Lausen
  • Bob Rutherford

Bats and Caves

The mission of the WCS Canada BatCaver Program is to identify and study hibernation sites for bats in Western Canada, using the resources of Cavers and the public to expand our knowledge.  This information is critical to conserving bat populations from threats to their survival such as the disease White Nose Syndrome, which is spreading across North America and will reach Western Canada in a few years.  

Bats play a major role in keeping insects including mosquitos under control, their only food source in this region.  Knowledge is our best defense and we may be able to protect bats against the disease with further research.

Facts

Bats are the primary consumer of night-time insects, including mosquitoes. Have you ever wondered why bats sometimes swoop close to your head?  They may be picking off the biting bugs that you attract!

White Nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease of bats, has killed millions of bats in Canada and the US, but has not yet reached Alberta or British Columbia.




Bats are the longest-lived, slowest reproducing mammals for their size.  A little brown myotis who was at least 38 years old was observed in Cadomin Cave in Alberta!  AAAAAAAA    

Protect Bats

Bats are very sensitive to disturbance while hibernating. If you see hibernating bats, leave the area immediately.

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Clean Gear

Decontaminating your gear between caving trips can prevent the spread of WNS.



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Find Bats

Install a bat monitoring device in a cave or mine when you go caving.



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Updates

NEW HIBERNACULUM FOUND IN ALBERTA

March 6, 2017

On a recent trip to the boreal forest of northern Alberta, BatCaver volunteers have confirmed the use of a cave by Little Brown Myotis bats for hibernation.  In this cave, 213 Myotis lucifugus were counted, but it is suspected that more exist.  The cave itself is unusual in that it was formed by a light sulphuric acid dissolving the limestone, making the environment fairly inhospitable for humans.  Bats were swabbed for samples of DNA and to monitor for signs of white-nose syndrome.  Ultrasonic data loggers that record bat activity were deployed, along with temperature and humidity loggers which gather information on the type of cave climate the bats are using at this site.  This is the third largest hibernaculum found in Alberta to date.

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS PRODUCED

February 2017

The BatCaver program has produced brochures aimed at people visiting caves which explain the risks of inadvertently transporting white-nose syndrome spores from one region to another.  It also contains conservation messaging, decontamination protocols for WNS and contacts for further information.   These have been sent to tourist caves in western Canada as well as caving organizations.  In addition, we have produced signage regarding bat conservation messaging, intended for posting at entrances to bat hibernation caves.  Other signage has been produced in consultation with BC Parks, for posting at trailheads to provincial cave parks which has similar conservation messaging.  We are also workng with other bat groups across Canada on bat translocation signage.  This is regarding the issues around bats being accidentally transported by campers and their vehicles when moving around North America.  The concern is regarding moving bats infected with white-nose syndrome to uninfected regions.

WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME CONFIRMED IN WASHINGTON STATE

March 31, 2016

We have just received the unfortunate news that a single bat has been confirmed to have died from White Nose Syndrome, just east of Seattle, Washington State.  For cavers in the west, this means that decontamination protocols need to be observed. CLICK HERE for a link to the original press release.  For cavers in the west, this means that decontamination protocols need to be observed.  For more information, CLICK HERE.

Summary of our first year's activities

In the first year of the program, beginning fall 2015, we have deployed ultrasonic bat detectors to 70 mine and cave sites across British Columbia and Alberta.  New bat hibernacula have been identified by our volunteers.  Detector retrievals have begun as the snow leaves and bats emerge from hibernation.  We would like to acknowledge all our volunteers in this effort:  members of the Alberta Speleological Society, BC Speleological Federation and all others who have contributed to the success of this major undertaking.  Our 2016 season includes analysis of the data gathered, followed by redeployment of data loggers to new locations in our ongoing effort to identify hibernation sites across western Canada. 

 

NEWS

Discovery of two new hibernacula in Alberta Caves - Globe and Mail article, March 12 2016 

 

Video

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has caused up to 100% bat mortality in cave hibernacula in Eastern Canada and United States. The longer the West can remain WNS-free, the more time there is to develop critical conservation strategies for vulnerable bat species.

WNS AND WESTERN CANADA

DECONTAMINATION PROTOCOLS FOR VISITING BAT HIBERNACULA

Watch this video in French.

Copyright 2017 by Wildlife Conservation Society