You’ve seen them in artistic renderings such as Dracula, Batgirl and Nightscream. And soon, people will be able to see bats at Vernon’s Allan Brooks Nature Centre.
Just in time for Bat Week, a provincial bat exhibit is coming to the nature centre for the first time, from Oct. 1-29. The exhibit, called Bats: Out of the Darkness, showcases local bat species and why these unique flying fur balls are deserving of protection.
Though bats face some stigma for appearing scary or for being disease carriers, they are integral to keeping ecosystems healthy.
“Bats are not the dark scary creatures they’ve been made out to be,” said Alexis Olynyk, the centre’s lead nature interpreter. “These unique nocturnal hunters have a number of skills and attributes that are very important to our natural environment, like insect control.”
Bats are also in need of help as many species have seen a rapid decline in recent decades.
Eight of B.C.’s 15 bat species are designated as at risk. The winged mammals only give birth to one pup per year and only about half of those young make it through their first winter. Bats’ slow reproductive rate means they are particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and other sources of mortality.
Species including the South Okanagan’s Pallid Bat are endangered. Their struggles include urban development, encroachment, habitat loss and the fatal white nose syndrome.
“This disease has killed more than six million bats since 2006,” said Olynyk, noting this is one factor adding to population concerns.
To learn more about bats and what can be done to help them, visit the Bats: Out of the Darkness exhibit at Allan Brooks Nature Centre during the month of October. The centre is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is by a suggested donation of $5 per person.
To celebrate Bat Week (Oct. 24-29), people can also sign up for the bat basics class on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. Register online at abnc.ca.
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