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.
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.
Bats captured in Douglas fir beetle traps, Valley Voice Newspaper, August 13, 2020, pg 12
Photo Credits: Header photo- F. Swan, body photo of Myotis evotis (long-eared myotis)- E. McLeod