BatCaver: Working to Protect North American Bats from White Nose Syndrome

Up close photo of Yuma myotis. This bat is found in British Columbia caves and is an example of bats that will be studied through the BatCaver program. Photo ©Cori Lausen/WCS Canada.

By Cori Lausen

When I was a graduate student studying bat ecology, I was keen to learn how to properly explore caves– a crucial skill, since the animals go underground to hibernate in the fall, reappearing only in springtime. During my first cave experience near Calgary, wedged between two rocks with no room to move my head, I was seized with claustrophobia. It’s a fear I’ve learned that I can overcome, but only if I am looking for bats.

Bat Week culminates on Halloween this year. It’s a fitting opportunity to recognize how important these nocturnal flying animals are to our planet. The cave-dwelling mammals have been increasingly at risk from White Nose Syndrome, or WNS, a lethal malady that has been spreading westward since its first occurrence in 2006.

Up close photo of Yuma myotis. This bat is found in British Columbia caves and is an example of bats that will be studied through the BatCaver program. Photo ©Cori Lausen/WCS Canada.

Despite my fear of confined spaces, I continue to be lured underground for the sake of bat conservation. One day sticks out in particular for me. Our new British Columbia BatCaver program co-coordinator, Martin Davis, offered to take me on a caving adventure through northern Vancouver Island.

To reach Pellicidar cave, near Port McNeill in BC, one has to go through a nearly impassable road. After having to stack logs and clear branches and small fallen trees to make a path for our truck, we finally got to the end of the road, with only a little daylight remaining.

We set out on a trail with some cooking equipment and food along with our gear, looking forward to a camp meal after the nets were set. Countless burned calories later and with our packs weighing us down, we finally located —> Read More

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