Want to Work With Wildlife?

B at bi­ol­o­gist, Jordi Segers has been hard at work try­ing to save the bat species here in Canada. He’s also been busy try­ing to de­bunk some aw­ful myths about these small mam­mals. Want to fol­low in his foot­steps? Keep read­ing!

Wild - - INSIDE - Chi­ropterol­o­gist Jordi Segers

W: What ex­actly does a chi­ropterol­o­gist do?

JS: Chi­ropterol­o­gist is just a fancy term for a bi­ol­o­gist who spe­cial­izes in bats. Bat bi­ol­o­gists can have many spe­cial­iza­tions, but what we all have in com­mon is that we are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about bat con­ser­va­tion and un­der­stand­ing how they live and how we can make sure we have healthy bat pop­u­la­tions all over the world.

W: What’s the best thing about be­ing a bat bi­ol­o­gist?

JS: Bats are super in­ter­est­ing an­i­mals. Be­cause they are noc­tur­nal (be­ing awake at night) and make sounds that hu­mans can’t hear (echolo­ca­tion, a nat­u­ral sonar) they are very hard to study. The cool thing about be­ing a bat bi­ol­o­gist is that I some­times get to be among the first peo­ple to learn some­thing new about bats and use this knowl­edge to make a dif­fer­ence for their sur­vival.

W: When did you first have an in­ter­est in bats?

JS: I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in all wildlife, but my in­ter­est in bats specif­i­cally didn’t start un­til I be­gan univer­sity and got to see wild bats up close. See­ing them like that showed me that ev­ery lit­tle bat has its own big per­son­al­ity.

W: I don’t think a lot of peo­ple think of bats that way. Hon­estly bats don’t al­ways have the best rep­u­ta­tion. Why do you think that is?

JS: Peo­ple don’t like what they don’t un­der­stand. Vam­pire movies and other scary movies have con­trib­uted a lot to the mis­un­der­stand­ings that peo­ple have of bats. Their bad rep­u­ta­tion is not do­ing them any good ei­ther. Many peo­ple would rather see them gone be­cause they don’t know the good things bats do. But any­body who be­comes more ed­u­cated about bats will start to ap­pre­ci­ate them more.

W: What threats are bats deal­ing with in Canada?

JS: Habi­tat de­struc­tion, col­li­sions with wind tur­bines, dis­tur­bance dur­ing hi­ber­na­tion and much more. The big­gest threat to bats in Canada is a disease called white-nose syn­drome. It af­fects bats in the winter. At this time bats need to hi­ber­nate so they don’t go hun­gry. White-nose syn­drome is a disease that wakes bats up from their winter hi­ber­na­tion. When they wake up too of­ten in winter they will get hun­gry and starve to death. White-nose syn­drome is killing mil­lions of bats, and some species are in re­ally se­ri­ous trou­ble.

W: White nose syn­drome seems to still be spread­ing. Do you think we’re on the brink of find­ing the cure? Or are you wor­ried that it’s go­ing to wipe them out en­tirely?

JS: Many smart re­searchers are try­ing to find ways to help bats sur­vive. For­tu­nately not all bats are dy­ing from white-nose syn­drome. I am not sure we will find a true cure, but a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent treat­ments could help more bats sur­vive.

W: I know a lot of kids want to do some­thing to help bats. Do you have any tips or sug­ges­tions?

JS: Con­vince your par­ents to put up a bat house in your yard to give bats a safe place to live. You can also plant na­tive flow­ers in your yard to at­tract in­sects: a food source for bats. And don’t for­get to spread the word about bats — tell all your friends how cool and im­por­tant bats are.

W: If one of our WILD read­ers wanted to be­come a bat bi­ol­o­gist when they grow up, what ad­vice would you have for them?

JS: Read about bats so that you know a lot about them. In school, study bi­ol­ogy or ask your teacher to help you learn about bats. Your teacher can even in­vite a lo­cal bat bi­ol­o­gist like me to visit your school and teach you about bats.

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