Bats of Hotel Lake
Some of the best neighbours you will ever have
While the sight of bats flying just above Hotel Lake’s surface during the evenings may send a shiver up your spine, they are one of the most interesting and helpful of our wildlife neighbours.
Of the 16 species of bats in BC, 9 reside on the Sunshine Coast and one of these is endangered. Our Canadian bat species are helpful to humans because they eat insects exclusively. During the evening and night they can eat more than their own weight in flying insects, and many of these are mosquitoes.
Bats belong to the Chiroptera (which means hand-wing) order of mammals. They are the only mammals that can actually fly. Their wings are layers of skin stretched over elongated bones that resemble human fingers.
Bats generally have excellent eyesight but in the darkness of night they rely on echolocation; they emit voice calls and listen for echos. They are capable of instantaneously processing the echo into distance, size, type, and speed of the insect flying ahead.
The BC Wildlife Act protects bats from extermination or harm; with that said, most humans will agree that, knowing more about bats and making an effort to protect their environment, would be a mutually beneficial thing to do.
There are many ways we can all help and there is a lot of scientific information available as well as several local organizations which we will spotlight here for your use.
As you will find out for yourselves, we can all find ways to help bats thrive by understanding, in particular, their need for shelter while they sleep during the day. They use a lot of energy while flying and it is essential that bats are not disturbed when sleeping or in a state of torpor, (mini-hibernation). For those of us with some carpentry skill, the making of bat houses can be an excellent project.
Having a bat house is helpful not just for the bats but also for scientists as you will be able to count bats leaving the house and send in that information to be added to increase our knowledge and understanding of the bat communities in our midst.
Bats should never be touched with bare hands and if a dead bat is found, this information can be called in to Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project at 604-989-1007.
SUNSHINE COAST WILDLIFE PROJECT has an excellent website at: https://www.coastwildlife.ca
Here is what they have to say about their work: “We are a small group of biologists working to conserve the Sunshine Coast’s precious natural heritage for generations to come. Since 2006, we have been working with community partners to help conserve wildlife and their habitats. Our project goals are:
To provide scientific information to guide conservation
To aid in the recovery of species at risk
To restore and enhance wildlife habitat
To increase the area of land conserved for wildlife
To facilitate community participation in stewardship efforts
Here is an excellent link to a page on the SCWP website...all about bats: https://www.coastwildlife.ca/news
Furthermore, the following Sunshine Coast organizations support the conservation of bats and their habitat: The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Forest Enhancement Society of BC, Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, and the B.C. government.
Another excellent source of information, COMMUNITY BAT PROGRAMS OF BC, can be found at: bcbats.ca.
And for the handyman-types who are reading this and thinking that a bat house would be a great project, Here is a direct link to some great plans: https://bcbats.ca/bat-boxes/bat-box-designs/