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

COVID-19 AND BATS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

COVID-19 may be transmittable from humans to bats in North America.  Please follow Provincial wildlife protocols when entering caves or conducting bat research.  



Our Mission

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 protecting bat populations from threats such as the fungal-caused disease White-nose Syndrome (WNS), which is spreading across North America and will reach Western Canada within 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 WNS with further research. Check out many more resources on bats in Alberta and British Columbia on WCS Canada's Western Bat Conservation Program website, WCSBats.ca

 

Knowledge is our best defense... 

March 2020 Update

Since 2015, the BatCaver program has conducted hibernation monitoring across British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, with over 200 roost logger placements. Sites monitored include limestone caves, lava tubes, mines, rock shelters and municipal storm sewers. Forty-four hibernation sites for Myotis bats have been identified across the region since monitoring began under this program. These species were targeted for study due to their susceptibility to WNS, but other hibernacula and roost sites were also identified for the Townsend's Big-eared Bat, Silver-haired Bat and the Big Brown Bat.  Myotis hibernacula located include Little Brown/Yuma, Western Long-eared, Long-legged, Northern Long-eared, California and Western Small-footed Myotis sites. While no bats have been located in lava tubes or storm sewers to date, caves and mines both host hibernacula, with the largest colony to date (1000+) being found in a mine in the West Kootenay region of BC.  The largest new cave hibernaculum is in the Rocky Mountain foothills and contains 140+ bats, making it the fourth largest known hibernacula in Alberta.


The Batcaver program played a significant role in the 2019 creation of a 500 hectare wildlife habitat area (WHA) on Vancouver Island.  It was established to protect multispecies bat hibernacula in a major cave system underlying an old growth forested ridge.


Biocleaning Station at Horne Lake Caves

BatCaver has consulted with Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park on the construction of a boot biocleaning station on the main route to the caves. The caves are a popular Vancouver Island tourist destination and because they are visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world, they are at greater risk of introducing the Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome to British Columbia by people tracking it into the caves with their boots. To lower the risk, visitors walk through a shallow detergent footbath which can wash off or disable the Pd fungus that causes the disease.

 

 

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

DECONTAMINATION FOR CAVERS AND MINE EXPLORERS

The BatCaver program has released a video (see below) demonstrating one easy method of decontaminating caving equipment after exiting a cave or mine. Our BC coordinator walks the viewer step-by-step through one of his common decon procedures: immersing his caving equipment in 60-degree Celsius water for at least 20 minutes. The video is intended to help increase the likelihood that more people will follow recommended procedures by simplifying the procedure that reduces the risks of inadvertently transporting White-nose Syndrome (Pd) spores from one region to another.


White-nose Syndrome has continued spreading westward through Manitoba. It has also been found in Washington State since 2016.  As this highly transmissible and fatal disease of bats continues its spread, adherence to proper decontamination protocol is increasingly important, especially among anyone who may enter multiple caves or mines in a wide geographic range, and anyone operating in the Fraser Valley and US border regions.

 

Additional decontamination procedures can be found under the decontamination protocol link on the BatCaver Resources page. A map of WNS affected areas of North America (2019) is found on the Threats tab.


Videos

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. Follow these simple and critical decontamination protocols to keep bats safe as you explore. 

DECONTAMINATION OF CAVING GEAR AND EQUIPMENT

DECONTAMINATION PROTOCOLS FOR VISITING BAT HIBERNACULA

Watch this video in French.

© 2020 Wildlife Conservation Society