A Retrospective on Bat Week 2023

Bat Week is an international celebration of the role of bats in nature, held each year from October 24 to 31. The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative is a proud partner in the organization of Bat Week, helping to bring on more partners from Canada and beyond, developing website content, distributing event information, and much more.

The last week of October was strategically chosen to celebrate bats as many people already have bats on their minds during Halloween time. This time of year, bats are often portrayed as scary, blood sucking vampires. While we certainly celebrate vampire bats because they need the love, we use this initiative to also highlight any of the other 1400+ bat species and educate people about the essential roles bats play in nature and how that translates into benefits to us.

Bat species diversity is wild! With so many species worldwide, almost every human being’s life is positively impacted by bats one way or another. Without bats the world would not be the same. Our selection of food in the grocery stores and at markets would be very different as well. There are fruit-eating bats that help to disperse seeds, there are nectar-eating bats that play important roles in pollination, and there are insect-eating bats that keep populations of insects under control that are pests to forest and agriculture.  Without bats, a lot of plants would not get pollinated, seeds would not be moved large distances, and insects would be consuming much of the food and forests that we rely on. Check out the many great recipes at https://batweek.org/cookbook/ and learn about the importance of bats while enjoying tasty savoury dishes and sweet desserts.

CWHC Atlantic Region operates the toll-free Atlantic Canada Bat Hotline: 1-833-434-BATS (2287). The hotline is open to members of the public in Atlantic Canada provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) to report any bat sightings or ask questions to receive up-to-date information on all things bats! With three bat species listed as endangered in Canada, and another three proposed to be listed as endangered, reporting your bat sightings can help your local scientists better monitor bat populations, identify key habitats, and work towards the recovery of the populations. Give us a call!

Did you know that there are bat hotlines for other regions in Canada as well? If you’re in the west, check out our partners with BC Bats (www.bcbats.ca) and Alberta Bats (www.albertabats.ca). In much of Canada, you can also register bat colonies and counts with the Neighbourhood Bat Watch (www.batwatch.ca). These are just a few ways you can contribute to our collective understanding of bats in Canada.

We celebrate bats because they are awesome, but also because they are in trouble and need our help. CWHC worked with the North American Bat Conservation Alliance to develop the 2023 North American State of the Bats Report. This report indicates that 52% of bat species across the continent are at risk of severe population decline. During Bat Week, we highlighted our three migratory bat species (hoary bat, eastern red bat, and silver-haired bat) on social media, which are all at risk from increasing wind energy development (among other things), but there are many other species and many more threats. We coordinate Canada’s national bat health program to help wildlife managers mitigate threats such as wind energy development, white-nose syndrome, bat exclusions, poor forest management, and more.

While Bat Week wrapped up over a month ago, at the CWHC every week is Bat Week and we will continue to support and equip our partners to better protect bats and the habitats they rely on.

Submitted by Jordi Segers – CWHC National Office

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