Kootenay Bat Program Addresses First BC Case of Disease-Causing Fungus


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Our provincial government recently announced BC’s first case of the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats.

The fungus was detected in bat excrement around Grand Forks. The syndrome has already spread to 38 states and eight provinces, putting three bat species on Canada's endangered list to date.

There is no proven treatment for white nose syndrome and while it doesn't impact people, spores from the fungus that cause the disease can still be spread through contamination and translocation.

Kootenay Community Bat Project Coordinator Elodie Khunert says it was only a matter of time and for now they’re continuing to monitor the situation:

“It will depend on how fast it’s going to spread I guess but at this point we’re just continuing with business so far so that means whoever comes into contact with bats or goes into a sensitive location where bats might be, you need to decontaminate and make sure you don’t spread it from one colony to another for example.”

Bounce Radio asked Khunert if annual bat counts might look any different this year:

“I don’t think we’ll see any impacts this year but definitely the bat count is more important than ever, because that’s how we’re going to figure out that some populations or some species are really in trouble because they’re not going to come back or they will come back in smaller numbers next year, in the summer…. People that want to count, that would be very helpful and anyone who finds a dead bat before the end of May should report it because we’re still testing them for white nose syndrome.”

Bats are generally waking up from hibernation now; some already have and others may need a couple more weeks. Anyone with details on winter roosting sites or any unusual behaviour should also contact the Bat Program.