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Rapid Reduction in Bat Populations
Posted on Thursday May 10, 2018
Like many other wildlife species that used to be abundant, bats are facing some serious problems lately.
Three of eastern Canada’s most common bat species have already experienced dramatic declines since 2010, and what all these bat species have in common is that they spend their winters hibernating in caves or abandoned mines.
Hibernating in this manner has been beneficial for these bats in the past, but since the introduction of a European fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome in 2010, this overwintering behaviour has quickly become the bats’ downfall.
The fungus causing the problems thrives in cold weather and grows on skin tissues, repeatedly rousing the bats from their hibernation, which causes them to consume their fat stores and starve to death before spring. Since the discovery of White-nose syndrome in Canada, researchers have documented a 94 per cent decline in known numbers of hibernating Myotis bats in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec.
As the bats are congregated in large numbers and close proximity during hibernation, the fungus easily spreads from one bat to another and can affect entire hibernating colonies each winter. The fungus is spreading westward at an average rate of 200-250 km per year, and with no known way to contain the spread, it is expected to affect all Canadian hibernating bats within 12-18 years.
In light of this unprecedented rapid decline in bat populations, the government of Canada recently listed three bat species as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act and the province of Ontario listed the same three plus one additional species under the Endangered Species Act.
Some of that bats here at Garrison Petawawa are now legally protected species, so ensure that Garrison Petawawa Environment Services is contacted before any attempts are made to manage nuisance bats within the RHU’s or elsewhere on the property. If you know of any current or former bat roosts at Garrison Petawawa, please feel free to pass this information along to the Environment Office at 613-687-5511 ext 5960.