Keeping track of bats
Local wildlife association asking public to help with project
The Port Morien Wildlife Association is placing bat boxes around Cape Breton Island and is in need of the public’s help.
“It would be good if we could monitor them all daily but it’s not possible,” said Stan Peach, association treasurer. “So we are getting ambassadors and they are watching them for us and we can still go out and monitor them too.”
The association received about $17,000 from the Nova Scotia Conservation Habitat Fund for two projects — a loon nesting platform project that is ongoing and the building and installing of bat houses across Cape Breton.
Peach said the two-year project will collect data on the local bat population.
“We’ve gotten 14 bat boxes made so far and have 10 out already,” he said. “The boxes will hold hundreds of bats.
some single-storey bat houses and built some duplexes with a double chamber.”
Peach said the bat population is at risk due to the white nose syndrome fungus, a disease that leaves a white ring around a bat’s nose, ears or wings. Since its discovery in 2009, the fungus has killed five million bats in Canada and the U.S.
The association is asking the public to report bat sightings so members can determine the health of the population in Cape Breton.
The wildlife association has received bat reports from Framboise and MacAskills Brook and they have placed bat boxes in Homeville, South Head, Broughton and Lake Ainslie.
“We want (boxes) across the island eventually.”
Peach said when bat activity has been determined they will set up a game camera to monitor the bats from a distance. The cameras are motion activated.
“These cameras are good from 60-70 feet away so you’re not disturbing a nest by climbing up and looking in.”
As well Peach said it’s hoped a bat box will be placed at the Donkin Mine site.
“We know when they were starting things over at the mine a few years ago they came across a big bat colony so we’d love to get a bat box in there too.”
Years ago Peach said they had a project with the previous mine owners where they put fish in the water coming from the mine to determine if it was toxic.
“The fish lived in it which showed the water was fine. We’d like to sit down with (the mine owners) to see if we can do the fish project again.”
Anyone seeing bat activity is asked to contact Stan Peach at 902-578-2753 or Robert Boutilier at 902-577-6117.
The association reminds the public to avoid direct contact with bats.
Jarrett Byrne, from left, a summer worker with the Port Morien Wildlife Association, prepares a bat houses to be mounted with help from John Kennedy, association secretary, and Stan Peach, treasurer. The wildlife association received a grant for the project to help monitor the health of the Cape Breton bat population.
This is a game camera that will be set up to take photos in areas where bat activity has been determined.