Canadian partners in the protection of bats
That’s a wrap, Bat Week 2022 has officially come to an end. This annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature always offers a great opportunity to teach and learn about bats. While Bat Week is primarily about these amazing animals themselves, we really appreciate the many partnerships in bat conservation that are highlighted during this week. Here’s a look at some of our partners.
The BC Community Bat Program was featured extensively by local media outlets, helping promote bat-friendly gardening by providing guidance on planting native trees, shrubs, or light-coloured and night-blooming flowers to attract insects that bats feed on. Furthermore, they say that controlling invasive plant species also helps insects and bats thrive. The BC Community Bat Program is a network of community bat projects across BC, working alongside the provincial Ministry of Environment, but also working closely with the neighbouring Alberta Community Bat Program as well as their neighbouring US partners.
The Alberta Community Bat Program used their social media platforms to share things you can do for bats, including making your property bat-friendly, linking to their fantastic resources on their website. The Alberta Community Bat Program is part of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada’s Western Bat Conservation Program and works alongside the provincial Alberta Environment and Parks.
The Western Canada Bat Conservation Program showed how they are using modified, cut down trees to recreate roosting places for bats, including the use of artificial bark that imitates old-growth tree cavities. Of course, leaving old growth trees standing is the better way to manage a forest, but those already cut cannot be brought back, thus providing a creative alternative to protect tree-roosting bats. As mentioned above, the Western Canada Bat Conservation Program partners with the BC and Alberta Bat Action Teams (and community bat programs), but also with the CWHC regional offices in the west as well as CWHC’s National Bat Health Program.
Being a national organization, the CWHC collaborates with partners across the country, in all levels of government as well as with other non-governmental organizations and initiatives. One such initiative that crosses borders between government and non-government as well as crossing geographic borders, is the Neighbourhood Bat Watch. The Neighbourhood Bat Watch is a collaborative effort among researchers in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Yukon and lets Canadians upload data on bat colonies. The program does a fantastic job educating Canadians about local bats as well as those species not found in Canada. During Bat Week, the program highlighted vampire bats and how they are tied in with Halloween, taking you back to 4000 BC.
The CWHC continues to work with the Atlantic Provinces to administer a bat hotline where residents of these provinces can report bat sightings, roosts, or ask questions about bats, including those related to managing bats in buildings. The Newfoundland and Labrador department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture spoke about provincial protection of their little brown and northern myotis, promoting our reporting hotline and resources on managing bats in buildings. We also coordinate the Atlantic Canadian North American Bat Monitoring hub, sharing resources and expertise to better understand bat population trends Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) is a multi-national, multi-agency coordinated bat monitoring program across North America, made up of an extensive community of partners across the continent. By using standardized protocols to gather data on bats, continent wide population status and trend assessments help to inform responses to stressors and sustain viable bat populations. Canadian NABat hubs have been established in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, and BC, and others are in the works.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is Canada’s federal agency tasked with protecting and conserving Canada’s natural heritage and environment. ECCC is part of the North American Bat Conservation Alliance and partners with many organizations across Canada to support bat protections and conservation, including the CWHC, Parks Canada, and the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. ECCC recently announced their latest Habitat Stewardship Program and the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk, which help fund essential projects on bat conservation in Canada.
The CWHC works closely with Parks Canada sites across the country. During Bat Week, Parks Canada’s Science and Conservation branch launched a new webpage about making life better for bats and people in Canada, highlighting their extensive network and their conservation actions to protect bats.
On the southern side of our border, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads the U.S. White-nose Syndrome Response and works closely together with Canadian organizations, including the CWHC and Environment and Climate Change Canada. We have worked with our U.S. partners since the inception of our bat white-nose syndrome program to share knowledge and resources, and to mitigate this threat together in the most effective and efficient manner.
Many hands make light(er) work and we need all hands on deck to protect the vast diversity of bat species that call Canada home. The partnerships that have been established and the many accomplishments that are made through these partnerships are a demonstration of the devotion of the people that work in bat conservation, dedicating many hours of their lives to help protect bats. Here at the CWHC we are proud to be a part of this network and we shall continue to coordinate Canada’s national bat health program year round. For us, every week is Bat Week.