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Report: Conservation of Bats and their Habitat in Clowhom Watershed COA-F20-W-3117

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Bats are one of the most threatened wildlife groups, impacted by multiple factors including habitat loss and degradation, declines in insect populations, mortality at wind turbines, chemical pollution, and accidental and deliberate human disturbance. An even larger threat looms with the specter of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a deadly introduced fungal disease which kills up to 95% of bats in affected colonies and is now spreading within Washington State.

Author:  Michelle Evelyn and David Stiles, Project Leaders Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project

Old Reference Number:  COA-F20-W-3117

Old Reference System:  FWCP - Fish Wildlife Compensation Program Coastal

Date Published:  Dec 2020

Report ID:  59047

Audience:  Government and Public

The purpose of this project is to help ensure the survival of bats and their habitat in Clowhom watershed and surrounding communities on the Lower Sunshine Coast. This report summarizes work during the first year of a three-year project. Our objectives in 2019-2020 were: (1) To improve and increase bat roosting habitat; (2) To increase the number of protected maternity roosts and hibernacula; (3) To undertake White-nose Syndrome surveillance; (4) To provide scientific information to guide conservation of bats; and (5) To undertake public outreach and engagement. To improve bat roosting habitat, we repaired damaged roosting boxes and worked with community members to build and install additional bat houses. To identify and protect bat roosts, we surveyed buildings and bat houses in Clowhom, met with stakeholders and residents in the watershed, and reached out to citizens in the wider Sunshine Coast community. To undertake White-nose Syndrome surveillance, we collected records of dead and winter-flying bats, submitted bat carcasses for health testing, and carried out roost emergence counts. To provide scientific data, we conducted acoustic surveys and roost counts, collected guano samples, monitored bat house occupancy, and installed temperature loggers in key bat houses. To engage community members in bat conservation, we carried out diverse outreach activities. In all, we documented 74 newly identified bat roosts in 2019, including one maternity colony supporting over 400 bats, and worked with landowners to protect and maintain these sites. Together with community volunteers, we built and installed 45 bat houses, assessed occupancy of 33 bat boxes, and carried out 159 emergence counts at 106 bat roost sites, including 5 sites in Clowhom watershed and 101 in surrounding areas of the Sunshine Coast. Engagement activities included 7 bat house workshops, 8 outreach tables, 6 school programs, and 11 media articles. Clowhom is home to two of the three largest known bat roosts on the Lower Sunshine Coast. One is in an abandoned building (Clowhom Lake Cabin) and the other in a set of bat boxes mounted back-to-back on posts (Maternity Box Cluster). Both of these regionally significant roosts house maternity colonies including both Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis) and the federally endangered species, Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus). Our 2019 roost emergence counts confirmed the presence of over 600 bats at the Maternity Box Cluster and over 1000 bats using the Clowhom Lake Cabin. A key activity this project year was to undertake necessary repairs and improvements to the Clowhom Maternity Box Cluster. By replacing broken posts, repairing damaged boxes, and adding extra boxes, we have increased the quantity and diversity of available roosting habitat at the site and ensured that this important structure will stand for several more decades. By installing internal and external temperature loggers we will be able to monitor temperature conditions in this important roost. Two BC Hydro buildings in Clowhom, the Pump House and the Auxiliary Building, both appear to support large numbers of bats at certain times of the year. In contrast to previous years when hundreds of bats were present, very few bats were seen at the Pump House in 2019. No bats were observed in the Auxiliary Building during the single visit in September 2019, but substantial bat guano was present. Further surveys are required to understand the timing and nature of bat use of these two buildings. Smaller bat roosts were documented in other structures in the watershed, including privately-owned cabins and a warehouse. Clowhom watershed is home to at least eight bat species. During acoustic surveys in 2019, the most commonly recorded bats were Yuma Myotis and Little Brown Myotis, along with the tree-roosting species Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans).

Report Type
  Fish and Aquatic Habitat Information
  Invertebrates - Aquatic
  Invertebrates - Benthic
  Invertebrates - Terrestrial
  Mammals - Bats
  Region - Vancouver Island
  Terrestrial Information - Habitat Monitoring
  Fish and Fish Habitat - Habitat and Stream Assessment
  Vegetation - Riparian
  Water Information - Water Quality

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