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B.C. Has Only a Small Window to Help Bats

The recent discovery in northwest Washington State of bats infected with white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in eastern North America, is a wake-up call. When WNS finds its way to BC, it is likely to bring with it major economic impacts both agricultural and forestry. Bats are voracious consumers of insects and if their numbers decline like they have in the east, there is big trouble ahead.

Bats play vital roles in pest control. At least one species of B.C. bat, for example, feeds on spruce budworm caterpillars and moths. That’s an important asset for the forestry industry. Others feed on insects that can affect crops, financially benefiting farmers through reduced pesticide use.  And we all benefit from bats feeding on mosquitoes and other biting insects. The economic fallout from massive bat decline could be felt by everyone, and affect all aspects of the ecosystem from fish to trees.

In BC, the disease can only be detected when bats are leaving hibernation sites, meaning the key period for tracking the potential spread of the disease is late winter and early spring, which, in turn, means we need to be ramping up early detection efforts now. Unfortunately, the provincial government does not currently have internal expertise and has not allocated secured funding to address the bat conservation crisis that is about to hit this province. 

We urge the provincial government to quickly adopt the BC Bat Action Plan, developed by a team of volunteers called the BC Bat Action Team, which outlines high priority actions we need to take to help bats survive and recover. These actions include:

- Increased funding for bat research and conservation in the province
- Commitment to monitoring and researching bat populations
- Public outreach and communication to raise awareness of WNS, bats, and conservation

Find out more: read the BC Bat Action Plan

Get involved: Share Dr. Lausen's Op-Ed to help raise awareness

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