As Halloween approaches, bats with bloody teeth or scary green eyes become more common conjuring up images of blood-sucking, dirty, aggressive creatures.
Educators trained by the Kootenay Community Bat Project (KCBP) are gearing up to dispel these myths to students in the Columbia Basin.
“Bats are actually very shy, clean creatures,” said Juliet Craig, Coordinating Biologist for the KCBP.
“They are extremely beneficial in eating nocturnal flying insects including mosquitoes, and cycling nutrients from wetlands to upland forests”.
Craig trained a group of talented, keen educators last spring so they would have the tools and information to provide school programs on bats during Halloween.
In partnership with Wild Voices for Kids, the educators will be offering free school programs to teach children about the amazing worlds of bats including their unique features, their role in ecosystems, and our local bat species.
Students will get a virtual tour of bats from around the world, eavesdrop on their echolocation calls, and explore current issues in bat conservation.
“Of the sixteen species of bats in BC, half of them are considered vulnerable or threatened and an additional species, the little brown myotis, has recently been assessed for federal Endangered status,” said Craig.
“Bats need all the help they can get including more positive press, and school programs can help do that.”
The Kootenay Community Bat Project, which began in 2004, has just wrapped up another year of identifying local bat species, providing educational programs and workshops, and assisting landowners with bat issues.
Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, the KCBP has provided over 400 visits to local residents, and identified over 300 roost sites for seven bat species.
In addition, with funding from the Public Conservation Assistance Fund, the KCBP is paying for bat-house materials for residents who would like to build a bat-house this winter.
To find out more about the Kootenay Community Bat Project, visit www.kootenaybats.com or contact 250-352-2260. Teachers can book a school program through Wild Voices for Kids at cbeen.org/wvfk/teachers/.
Juliet Craig is a Registered Professional Biologist with Silverwing Ecological Consulting.