Welfare and Handling Recommendations for Bat Censuses in Canada
It is with great pleasure that we announce the availability of “Welfare and Handling Recommendations for Bat Censuses in Canada” in English and French under the Population and Monitoring subsection on the Resources tab of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative’s Bat Health webpage (http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/bat_health_resources.php#population-monitoring). This document is the culmination of a three-year project that involved an in-depth literature review, consultation with bat experts across the country, and writing a consensus-based document to reflect the most up to date welfare practices for protection of bat health across jurisdictions. The work was accomplished with a shared funding model between Parks Canada Agency and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative through coordination provided by the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute and Saint Mary’s University. However, it must be recognized that that this project would not have been completed in such a successful manner without the willingness of those Canadian leaders in bat health, biology, ecology, research, welfare and management with representation from Provincial/Territorial governments, academia, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations (collectively known as the Canadian Bat Welfare Working Group) to collaborate and freely offer their knowledge, wisdom, expertise and opinions.
The document is not meant to be prescriptive and should be used for pragmatic guidance and recommendations on best practices regarding bat welfare in the most common situations where bats are captured and handled for routine studies in Canada. As such, a suite of options is offered to ensure high standards of bat welfare that are based on the wide range of variables encountered in field conditions that can potentially affect the well-being of the bats in our care while undertaking these activities. Important considerations include age, demographics, stage in the yearly cycle, physiology, and health of bats as well as environmental and other factors that might influence their safety under such circumstances.
Dr. Dave McRuer, a wildlife veterinarian in Parks Canada Agency, CWHC Associate, and a co-author of the document, introduced these recommendations to an international audience during two days of the poster sessions at the recent Wildlife Disease Association Conference in Athens, Georgia July 29 – August 4, 2023. It was welcomed as a much needed and valued resource that will help researchers, animal care committees, and resource managers achieve their goals of protecting the health and welfare of endangered and other bat species throughout North America, but particularly in those areas of higher latitudes where colder temperatures and longer hibernation periods are important considerations.