Every Week is Bat Week for the CWHC Bat Team

Tessa McBurney shows AVC Junior Vet Camp participants how mist nets are used to capture bats. Picture submitted by VCA Student Ambassador, Lindsay Gallant.

This summer, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) collaborated with the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), PEI National Park (PEINP), and Wild Child PEI to host several presentations, bat walks, and engaging activities that highlight the importance of bats. Local bat experts—Tessa McBurney (MSc/DVM student, CWHC Atlantic), Jordi Segers (National Bat Health Coordinator, CWHC National Office), and Darrian Washinger (Atlantic Bat Conservation Project Technician, CWHC Atlantic)—presented on bat diversity, ecological services, habitat use, and survey methodologies. Field trips provided hands-on experiences in identifying suitable bat habitats and various bat survey methods, emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts.

AVC Junior Vet Camp participants learn about the ecosystems in PEI National Park. Picture submitted by VCA Student Ambassador, Lindsay Gallant.

The AVC Summer Academy—offered to high school graduates, undergraduate students, and university graduates—and AVC Junior Vet Camp—offered for grades 7-9 students— both featured comprehensive presentations as well as a field trip to PEINP in collaboration with Lindsey Burke, a Resource Management Officer with Parks Canada. Darrian led the field trip for 24 Summer Academy students and Tessa led two groups of 50 students for Junior Vet Camp. Each group went on a forest walk at the Farmlands Trail where they explored different ecosystems, identified suitable bat habitats, and observed how the environment was impacted by post-tropical storm Fiona. AVC Summer Academy students broke off into groups and deployed bat acoustic detectors in suitable bat habitats by getting creative with the limited field equipment provided (duct tape and zip ties). AVC Junior Vet Camp students played an engaging nature-themed bingo scavenger hunt. The participants enjoyed tracking down the different nature-themed items, with a leopard frog being the most exciting find, and were rewarded with wildlife stickers!

In collaboration with Wild Child PEI, Tessa and Darrian joined the Young Ecologists Camp at Strathgartney Provincial Park. This day camp was offered for 13 girls and gender-minority youth ages 11–15 to explore nature and engage in various ecological activities with regional guest scientists. They displayed mounted bats, demonstrated equipment use for various bat monitoring activities, and set up a mist net with plastic bats for the participants to practice extracting “captured bats” from the fine net. They were an engaged audience, asking many questions about bats around the world, threats to local bats, and how to become a chiropterologist. (Check out photos from the event here).

Submitted by Darrian Washinger, CWHC Atlantic

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