South Okanagan Bat Habitat Conservation Project
Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society (BEEPS)
BEEPS promotes the protection and preservation of bat species and provides education to the public in partnership with the BC Community Bat Program. The “Got Bats?” initiative promotes conservation of bats on private land, provides a resource to landowners dealing with bat issues, and engages citizen scientists to collect data on bat populations.
Half of the 16 species of bats in BC are of conservation concern, and many of them occur here in the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan has more species of bats living here than anywhere else in Canada, and is home to many unique bats that are at risk due to loss of habitat and lack of suitable spots for winter hibernation and summer maternal colonies.
There are many threats facing bats including habitat loss and the potential arrival of White-nose Syndrome. White-nose Syndrome is a devastating fungus that has nearly wiped out several formerly common bat species in eastern North America in just a few years. Although WNS has not yet reached BC, it is predicted to arrive within the next ten years.
This project will mitigate threats to bats by protecting and enhancing bat habitat in the region through education and stewardship on private land. The project will increase residents’ knowledge, understanding, and stewardship of
bats and their habitats, and reduce the effects of residential, commercial, and agricultural development. The project also focuses on developing educational materials and partnerships through the South Okanagan Community Bat
Program, who provides outreach and education, identification and stewardship of maternity roosts, and promotion of Bat-friendly Communities.
This project was approved by the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board and $ 17,137 was allocated from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in 2019. The South Okanagan Conservation Fund dollars are matching significant confirmed funding from other sources including private grants and foundations. The project is expected to complete by February 15, 2020.