2017 and 2018 marked record-breaking fire seasons in British Columbia, and even though 2019 provided welcome relief with a wetter and cooler summer, fire ecologists say more hot dry summers are on their way. BC forests continue to battle Mountain Pine Beetle and Fir Beetle outbreaks due to unseasonably warm winters as well, which is exacerbating the issue. As a result, the forestry industry and BC communities and individuals are preparing themselves with FIRESMART fuel-reduction plans to lessen the risk of wildfire.
Although vital to the health of our forests and communities, the methods used in fuel reduction can be unknowingly detrimental to bats. Current fuel-reduction prescriptions often end up removing quality bat habitat.
WCS Canada is partnering with the University of Northern British Columbia to investigate forestry practices that provide the outcomes needed for BC forests while remaining bat-friendly. This project is anticipated to start in the fall of 2020 and WCS Canada is currently looking for funding sources to bring this project to reality.
Bats captured in Douglas fir beetle traps, Valley Voice Newspaper, August 13, 2020, pg 12
Artificial old growth trees provide roosts for bats in Golden area, The Golden Star, November 6, 2020.
WCS Canada has recently partnered with NACFOR (Nakusp and Area Community Forest) and consultant Darcie Quamme of Integrated Ecological Research to develop an exclusion method to prevent the accidental capture of bats in Fir Beetle pheromone traps.
A simple solution is often the best solution! This method will help to prevent the accidental capture of bats (Myotis evotis) cuing in on Douglas Fir Beetle as prey within pheromone traps used for monitoring this forest pest. The goals of this project were to: 1) encourage stewardship and education non the ecological services provided by bats to the forest industry, 2) collect data on incidental bat captures and 3) provide solutions to prevent capture. This is a win-win solution to prevent the need to handle bats and promote conservation of natural enemies of forest pests. To learn more about this partnership project, please click here.
While many people gravitate to erecting bat boxes to help bats, these box structures in fact generally only appeal to two species of bats in the East Kootenay, so erecting tree-bark structures to use as additional roosting habitat can help many more species of bats.
Dr. Cori Lausen and Nelson biologist Darcie Quamme have partnered up with landowners Sigi Liebmann and Brian Amies near Burges James Gadsen Park of Golden, BC to erect two unique bat roosts: one is designed by Liebmann, using large slabs of bark attached to a pole, and the other wrapped with Branden Bark, a commercially available bark mimic from US-based Copperhead Consulting. Using a bat detector, local bat ambassador Joyce deBoer and Lausen discovered that there are at least 6 species of bats using this area, all of which would benefit from bark roosts to raise their young. This is only the second location in BC to erect the Branden Bark bat roosts.
Many locals assisted with this project, including donation of equipment, labour, materials, land and ideas: Sigi Liebmann, Brian Amies, Joyce deBoer, Travis Cochran, Ron Appleton, Brian Jackson (Jackson Contracting & Excavation), Rob Kinsey, Cory Schacher, Fischer Schacher, Moritz Kohler. This project is part of a larger effort to conserve bats in the Columbia Wetlands, and is supported in part by funding from Columbia Basin Trust and Environment Canada and Climate Change Strategy (“Kootenay Connect” Initiative). Read more here.
Photo Credits: Header photo- F. Swan, body photo of Myotis evotis (long-eared myotis)- E. McLeod