Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

Bat Reporting

Recently, MTRI researchers conducted a visual survey of a larger maternity colony in southwest Nova Scotia.  Last year when this site was surveyed, only 58 bats were documented.  This year however, 157 bats were counted which is a spark of optimism towards the species populations in Nova Scotia.  Along with the Little brown bat, the Northern myotis and Tri-colored bat are also listed as endangered due to white-nose syndrome. 

On May 15th, out bat conservation website will be open again for you to report any bat sightings you have.  Please visit www.batconservation.ca to report any bats you encounter this year.  We encourage you to report any and all sightings, even if you believe it to be a repeat sighting of a bat you already reported.

 


Why monitor and report bat sightings?

Bats have become increasingly at risk in North America due to White-nose syndrome (WNS) since it was first observed in New York in 2006. Since then it has spread through bat-to-bat contact, arriving in Nova Scotia in 2011. WNS is caused by Pseudogymnascus destructans, a fungus which invades the body of bats while they overwinter in caves. The fungal infection causes the bats to awaken from hibernation and in a futile search of food resulting in death by starvation or hypothermia.

In 2013, MTRI and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) collaborated to create www.batconservation.ca. The website consists of a web portal for reporting bats and also directs users to the rare species reporting hotline 1-866-727-3447 where they can also submit reports of bats. 

MTRI launched a new project in 2017 to research and educate people about endangered bats in Nova Scotia. After collecting five years of public bat reports and over 3000 sightings, MTRI has learned that some bats are persisting in the wake of WNS. MTRI plans to reach out to homeowners and landowners who have reported significant sightings and will work with them to monitor bats and reduce threats and disturbanceto bats on their properties. This project will collect data on the status of bats in the province since the introduction of WNS, and will be used to make informed decisions on the potential future recovery of this species.

Photo Credit: Hugh Broders

Program Objectives

  • To collect information on bats and monitor where they are in Nova Scotia.
  • To monitor two maternal bat colonies discovered in 2016.
  • To collaborate with landowners by acoustically and visually monitoring private land sites with reports of bats.
  • To acoustically monitor 90 sites in Southwest Nova Scotia that were studied pre-White-nose syndrome.
  • To raise awareness of White Nose Syndrome and the decline of bat populations in Nova Scotia.

Methods

  • Advertised and collected information through www.batconservation.ca and the Species at Risk Hotline 1-866-727-3447. The website was launched in 2013 and is open annually to submissions from mid-May to October 31. During the winter, all sightings are referred to Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. In 2017/2018, reports from the first 5 years of website data were analyzed.
  • Partnered with a sample group of private landowners and selected a sample of study sites to test the acoustic monitors.
  • Conducted bat counts at two maternal colonies on a bi-weekly basis to gather baseline information on roost activity. Monitored known roost sites using visual survey counts from dusk until after a period of inactivity by the bats.
  • Conducted outreach through presentations and appearances at public events, distributed posters and media articles promoting bat sighting reporting throughout Nova Scotia.

One of the maternity colonies MTRI staff monitor. Click here to read more. Photo Credit: Jason Headley

2017 Results

  • 2960 sightings were reported to www.batconservation.ca from 2013-2017, with 291 sightings in 2017.
  • The most common structures bats were reported in order were: houses, barns, bat boxes, trees and patio umbrellas.
  • The highest counts of the two new maternal roosts monitored were 40 bats on July 7 and 338 bats on July 19 respectively.
  • Three private landowners were visited and acoustic monitors deployed on their property with some recordings captured.
  • Five sites studied pre-White-nose syndrome were visited and equipment was tested in preparation for the 2018 and 2019 field seasons.
  • Outreach was conducted at three events (Discovery Center Halloween event, Museum of Natural History Halloween event, Nova Scotia Forest Festival) and two presentations were conducted: approximately 500 people were reached.

2014 Results

  • The website received over 12,989 page views by 2,922 unique visitors. 

  • Over 900 individuals provided over 900 records to the database. 

  • Maps of the results were produced and a short report is available on the bat conservation website.

  • Any reports that mentioned large concentrations of bats, nuisance bats or injured bats were forwarded to Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

2013 Results

  • The website received over 13,000 page views by 2,536 unique visitors. 

  • Over 900 individuals provided over 1100 records to the database. 

  

Location of bat sightings submitted to the bat conservation website and rare species reporting hotline in 2013.

Years of Data

  • Ongoing project since 2013

Partners

  • Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

  • Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

  • Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Network

  • Parks Canada

  • Natural Forces

  • Hugh Borders, University of Waterloo