Bat research has been conducted on the CVWMA as a part of 3 projects funded by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program – Columbia Basin since 2000 (West Kootenay Townsend’s big-eared bat project (2004 – 2006), West Kootenay Fringed Bat Project (2007) and the Provincial Taxonomic Study of Long-eared Bats in BC (2009 – 2010)).
Mist net and acoustic surveys were undertaken in a variety of habitat types within the CVWMA as a part of these projects. As a result of these surveys we learned that the CVWMA supports a diverse bat community of 10 species, two of which are blue listed (Species of Special Concern) (Table 1). The mosaic of habitats on the CVWMA lands is considered a regionally important area for bats in the West Kootenay. Wetland complexes, mature Black cottonwood forests and dry upland forests provide excellent foraging and roosting opportunities for this group of mammals. Some of the highlights of the research on the CVWMA lands include the identification of a breeding population of the Fringed Bat (Myotis thysanodes), which was a range extension for this species (previously though to be exclusive to the intermontane grasslands of BC). Additionally, as a part of a radio-telemetry study examining foraging habitat use of the Townsend’s big eared bat, it was determined that the CVWMA lands near Six Mile Slough are a key foraging area for the local maternity colony.
Bat species identified within the CVWMA since 2000.
|Common Name||Conservation Data Center Listing|
|Little Brown Myotis||Yellow|
|Big Brown Bat||Yellow|
|Townsends Big-eared Bat||Blue|
|Western Long-eared Myotis||Yellow|
Most recently, Dr. Cori Lausen, Birchdale Ecological Ltd. of Kaslo, B.C., has been monitoring winter activity of bats in the area using acoustic ultrasound recording. While this research is in its infancy, substantial bat flight during winter has been documented, and mist net captures of bats has occurred as early as February. Included in the list of bats found to be relatively active during the hibernation period are: Townsend’s Big-eared bat, Silver-haired bat, and Californian Myotis. Where these species of bats are roosting to overwinter, and why winter flight is taking place during the hibernation period is not understood; but forthcoming research in the West Kootenay by Dr. Lausen in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program may reveal answers to these questions.
Learning more about our regional bats during winter is increasingly important due to the new conservation threat facing all hibernating bats – White Nose Syndrome. While this fungal disease of bats is currently only found in eastern Canada and US, it is expected to continue to spread westward, with mortality rates of upwards of 90% for some species. For more information on the White Nose Syndrome, visit the US Fish and Wildlife Service.