By Jenn Watt
Published May 23 2017
Ontario has eight species of bats and all of them have been spotted in the Haliburton Highlands. However in recent years half of the province’s bat species have been classified as endangered due to a fast-moving illness called white-nose syndrome.
To get a better picture of how this disease is affecting local populations the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust has hired local biologist Paul Heaven to record the presence of bats and their distribution.
“We’re working with the public requesting the community to report bat observations to us” Heaven said.
The presence of bats is enough information for Heaven who will then bring a bat recorder to the site to find out what kind of bats are there.
“It’s a box I put up on a 16-foot pole and it has a microphone on the side of it and records ultrasonic sounds. It records the calls of the bat.
“You bring that back and do some analysis on it and define what species are on site” he said.
The land trust will receive $104000 over two years from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry through its species at risk fund for its bat programming.
White-nose syndrome affects bats that hibernate because the disease disrupts their torpor when they rest in the winter causing them to use up stored energy.
“It’s a fungus that gets on the muzzle and ears and the wings of the bat. It gives them the fuzzy white appearance of the muzzle” Heaven explained. “It’s irritating enough it’ll wake them from torpor. They might leave and go out into the winter. … For a little bat like that that’s way too much energy. They’re dying of exhaustion.”
The four bats classified as endangered are eastern small-footed myotis little brown myotis northern myotis and the tri-coloured bat.
Anyone who sees a bat on their property is encouraged to contact Paul Heaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-286-3181. The sighting must be current as this survey is to find bat populations that are in the Highlands now.
For more information on bats the land trust is putting on a presentation Wednesday June 7 at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre from 7 to 8 p.m.
A bat box building workshop at Abbey Gardens will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on July 8. You can register for the workshop at haliburtonlandtrust.ca.