Holy flying nocturnal mammals! What happened to all the bats? Since 2016, numbers of the Little Brown bat native to our part of the world have plunged by 91%. Where once our dusk and dawn skies danced to bats going about the business of eating their own weight in insects every night, those skies are now largely still. Everyone has a story of bats getting inside the house, terrifying some, prompting others to reach for tennis rackets, and the level- headed to open windows and doors. When was the last time you heard of an unwanted visit?
Of the eight species found in Quebec, all are in trouble, Those bats who overwinter in caves here fall victim to the often deadly condition known as White Nose Syndrome. Their numbers are down an estimated 98%. Pesticides and habitat loss contribute to the decimation of a misunderstood creature and the roll they play in a healthy eco-system. There is an ongoing bat crisis, and superheroes can’t help. But we can.
Bat Conservation of the Eastern Townships (BCET) is a volunteer organization committed to the conservation of bats and their habitats through education, research and community engagement. Their mission is to raise awareness, establish population benchmarks with a community-wide census, and aid conservation.
To that end, BCET is holding two local public conferences in April. One on April 7 at 1 p.m. at Centre Lac Brome, Knowlton and the other on April 14 at 10 a.m. at Town Hall in Mansonville- Potton. They are chaired by Université de Sherbrooke biologist Victor Grivegnée-Dumoulin, with ground support provided by West Bolton potter, farmer and municipal councillor Robert Chartier.
“I first got involved when we had to move nesting bats from the attic of our town hall,” said Chartier recently. He did his homework, found heated bat houses, nurtured mothers and their fragile babies, and raised $1500 to buy one for the town hall refugees. A BCET goal is to raise funds to buy more shelters, purchase radar that can attract them for census and location purposes, and help surviving numbers repopulate.
The public can help and this is where the conferences come in. Join BCET – there is no entry fee, but feel free to support the group financially, and through active participation. A bat saved is a bunch of biting bugs doomed. For more information go to conservationchauvesouris.com