Unlikely Allies Come Together to Help Endangered Bats

OTTAWA, July 26, 2019 – The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and a broad range of unlikely allies are coming together to help endangered bats. The partners include a wildlife control company, a bat researcher, federal youth employment and training programs, local homeowners, and a local men’s wellness group. The unique project, funded by the Ottawa Community Foundation, has the potential to provide habitat for 45,000 at risk bats.

“The decline in local bat populations due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and White Nose Syndrome has prompted CWF to take action to promote bat population growth,” said James Pagé, CWF species at risk and biodiversity specialist. “Bats are an important part of our ecosystem as they consume lots of mosquitos and other insects, which helps farmers by providing millions of dollars’ worth in pest control.”

Bats that find themselves as house guests in attics or other structures are often evicted. CWF developed guidelines to follow when this takes place, most importantly not harming the bats and having the work take place at a time when there’s no risk to pregnant mothers and pups. Typically this should be in the early spring or very late summer/fall.

To help provide habitat, as bats lose access to roost sites, CWF launched the Bat House Program in the Ottawa area in 2017. A partnership was struck with the Men’s Shed to help design and build a variety of bat houses. Both the Hackberry Men’s Shed in Carleton Place and the Naismith Men’s Shed in Almonte have been involved.

“This worthy job performed for the Canadian Wildlife Federation gives the Naismith Men’s Shed members the opportunity to socialize in the unique way, working shoulder to shoulder on a project,” said David Steventon of the Naismith Men’s Shed. “This type of undertaking creates the magic of purpose.”

Thanks to the initiative of the Men’s Shed, CWF is installing 150 bat houses at homes in the Ottawa area, encompassing three different designs.

In order to determine which house is most effective, CWF is working with Derek Morningstar, a dedicated bat researcher coming from southern Ontario, to outfit bats at one of the sites with small and harmless radio-transmitters prior to eviction. CWF then lets the wildlife friendly, Get’Em Out Wildlife Controldo their work to exclude the bats from the home.

“Get’Em Out has been excellent to work with and a great believer in bat conservation,” said Pagé. Tracking the bats before and after the eviction will help CWF determine the program’s impact. Here’s where the youth come in. Through the Canada Summer Jobs program and the CWF Canadian Conservation Corps, young adults are helping CWF specialists monitor the bats before and after the eviction.

“I am proud that our government’s Canada Summer Jobs program could play a role in such an important conservation effort,” said Karen McCrimmon, Member of Parliament for Kanata─Carleton. “As we develop our cities and communities, we must take care to ensure that our local bat populations are also protected. The Canadian Wildlife Federation’s initiative is essential to understanding how we can better care for our local endangered species. By developing habitats as bats lose access to roost sites, we are ensuring that Ottawa’s ecosystem remains diverse and sustainable.”

The bat house program and eviction study will increase awareness in the Ottawa-Gatineau area and across the country. The research could even be used to guide and inspire bat conservation programs in other regions of Canada.

“Thanks to funding from the Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF) this program has the potential to bring about positive and sustainable change in our community and beyond,” said Pagé. “One of the reasons CWF received the grant is because so many partners were involved. This adds value to the program. Anything is possible if we all work together.”

CWF encourages all Canadians to help the bats by reporting roosting sites using iNaturalist.ca or the free iNaturalist app. CWF cautions the public to maintain a safe distance from the bats, however, and report any direct contact to a health care provider.

CWF thanks all the partners and the members of the public for supporting bat conservation efforts. For more information, including monitoring tips, visit HelpTheBats.ca.

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, conducting research, taking action to conserve habitat and wildlife, recommending legislative and policy changes, and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information.