Although we currently know surprisingly little about bats in winter in western Canada, WCS Canada is making giant leaps filling critical knowledge gaps through our on the ground research and citizen science programs. In 2015, WCS launched a new citizen science initiative call the BatCaver Program.
This citizen science program is aimed largely at cavers, mine enthusiasts, and others who go underground in western Canada, with funding support from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, TD Friends of the Environment, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, and BC Hydro Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, and Golder Associates, among others. It has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the caving community; we are working with the Alberta Speleological Society, the BC Speleological Federation, the Canadian Cave Conservancy, and other groups. Through these collaborations, we now have more than 50 bat detectors deployed in hard-to-reach underground locations across western Canada. Ultrasound recordings made throughout the winter and collected in the spring will allow us to discover new bat hibernacula. As we learn where our bats hibernate, and what species use what types of caves or mines, we will be better poised to help fight the deadly White Nose Syndrome that is expected to spread into the west within the next decade or so.
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada