The province is asking the public to join efforts to track the health of Nova Scotia’s bat populations.
In response to the rapid decline in bat numbers because of white-nose syndrome, the province has partnered with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute to create two tools for the public to report bat sightings: a telephone hotline and a simple online reporting form.
White-nose syndrome, a fatal infection caused by the cold-climate fungus Geomyces destructans, has killed millions of bats throughout northeastern North America in just a few years.
“Every sighting is important to report, given the low numbers in the wake of the disease,” said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker. “We can all play a role in their recovery, especially landowners and others who may have direct contact with these species. With numbers so severely impacted, every bat observation now provides important information to biologists and scientists.”
“Gathering the collective knowledge of Nova Scotians will be crucial to effective recovery of these bat species,” said Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute wildlife biologist Brad Toms. “Many Nova Scotians live close to these bats and, with their help, we’ll be starting the process with a map rather than a blank piece of paper.”
White-nose syndrome causes bats to wake frequently during winter hibernation; with limited food sources available, they can die from starvation and hypothermia. After documenting a 95 per cent decline at five mainland Nova Scotia over-winter hibernation sites, the province listed three species under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act.
The public can report sightings of bats, including summer bat roosts and over-winter sites, by calling 1-866-727-3447 (toll-free) or by going online to www.batconservation.ca .