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Alberta Community Bat Program joins the Neighbourhood Bat Watch Research Network!

New in 2017, WCS Canada, on behalf of the Alberta Community Bat Program, has signed a partnership with the Neighbourhood Bat Watch Research Network to work towards building a national database for reporting observations of bats and bat roosts. This will provide an important means of monitoring bat populations across Canada and will help support research programs needed to protect and better understand our bats. The Bat Watch web portal allows users a convenient way to enter information, visualize observations, and track their roosts over time. As the Bat Watch partner for Alberta, provincial observations submitted through Bat Watch will automatically be included in the Alberta citizen science project.

There are now three ways to participate: (1) report bat roosts, (2) complete yearly emergence counts at reported roosts; and (3) report other observations of bats, such as those seen while out walking or that temporarily seek shelter on the exterior of your home.

Read below and visit Neighbourhood Bat Watch to begin



Alberta Community Bat Program Citizen Science Project

Maternity roosts are locations where female bats raise their pups during the summer. These groups range anywhere from a single bat, up to well over a thousand individuals. Males typically roost alone during the summer, so if you find a group of bats, it is most likely a maternity colony.

Structures supporting maternity roosts are important resources for bats, and have a strong influence on the growth and survival of pups. Documenting the location and status of maternity roosts is an important component of managing and studying bat populations. However, roosts are seldom reported, and there are substantial gaps in our understanding of habitat use by bats.

Because many (and possibly the majority for some species) of roosts are in human structures, public participation is critical for the success of research and monitoring programs. If you have bats – or have a place for a bat house – considering participating in the Alberta Community Bat Program’s citizen science project. Observations will contribute to a provincial and national roost reporting database.



HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Note: Be sure to always follow safe procedures when you encounter wildlife. See this page for information on basic precautions when you encounter a bat, what to do if you think you may have been bitten, or if you need help dealing with an injured or distressed bat.

OPTION ONE – REPORT A ROOST

Step 1 – Find or Build a Roost

document roostBefore you can begin, you need to know of the location of a bat roost.
Suitable roosts include groups of bats using:
» Building, such as in an old barn, attic, under siding, etc.
» Bridges
» Tree crevices or under bark
» Rock crevices or caves
» Bat houses
» Any other structure with bats
Don’t know of a bat roost? Then install a bat house, and let us know how it does (even reports of non-use are important).

Step 2 – Document the Roost

Roost reportCollect some basic information about the roost, such as:
» Location (GPS coordinates)
» Date
» Brief description of the roost and signs of bat activity
» Photos, if available
» Any other details you think are important

Step 3 – Collect a Guano Sample

build a roost

If you are able to send us a guano sample (i.e., bat poop), we may be able to have it tested to see what species is using the roost (funds permitting).


Read the protocol for how to collect bat guano for DNA testing.

Do not place guano in a plastic bag – it needs air flow! Use a paper envelope instead. Try to sample guano deposited during the current year.

Step 4 – Tell Us About It

build a roost

Send us your information using one of the following options:

» Submit your reports using the Bat Watch web portal (preferred).

» Email us a report of your observatons: roostreports@albertabats.ca. Please include the location of the roost and a short description of your observations

Step 5 – Provide Ongoing Monitoring

build a roost Ongoing monitoring of your roost provides valuable data needed for assessing bat populations in Alberta. If possible, we encourage participants to count bats exiting from roosts one to four times during the summer period.

For instructions, see the protocols for counting bats in a colony.

» Submit your monitoring results using the Bat Watch web portal (preferred).
» Alternatively, submit your monitoring reports by email.
Reports of roosts are greatly appreciated, even if ongoing monitoring is not planned.

Optional: Submit a comprehensive roost report

Comprehensive Roost Report Do you have time to provide additional information about your bat roost? Detailed information will help us find important trends that can be used to provide better recommendations to guide bat conservation and habitat enhancement.

After you report your observations to Bat Watch, use our web form to provide additional detail about your roost.

You can also submit your roost information by email.



OPTION TWO – REPORT A BAT OBSERVATION

Have you seen a bat?

document roost

You can now submit observations of your sightings using the Bat Watch web form.
Some of the situations when you may wish to report a sighting include:
» You are out for a walk and see a bat flying around
» You are camping and see bats
» A bat is found clinging to the side of a building, or is found under a patio umbrella
» You have a bat detector, and want to report the species detected

Whenever possible, and safe to do so, please take pictures so that we can attempt to identify the bat (if you have a detector, you can also provide your acoustic files)!

Note: Bats found roosting with multiple individuals are likely using the structure as a maternity roost, and you should instead report it as a colony (see Option One, above).