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100 bats found in Manotick home being tracked and studied
More than 100 bats have called the attic of a Manotick mansion home for months.
For researchers, the discovery is an opportunity to study the creatures, mostly big brown bats, and determine what happens to them once evicted from a home or building.
We don't know where they go afterwards so we don't know what happens to them,” said James Pagé, Species at Risk and Diversity Specialist with Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Pagé, and his team of experts, wants to know more about where the bats live and why millions across the continent are dying.
“Of the 8 species that are occur in Ontario, 4 of them are listed as endangered species.” said Derek Morningstar of Myotistar Advanced Bat Research and Technological solutions. “So they are in trouble.”
Morningstar, Pagé and crew spent more than 6 hours outside the south Ottawa home Saturday night, installing netting and traps to capture, tag, and track the bats with radio transmitters over the next two weeks.
“Bats are so critically important to our ecology. They eat an enormous amount of insects. They contribute to our ecosystem in ways that no other animal can,” said Morningstar.
Within seconds of the sun going down, more than a dozen bats emerged from the attic; the bats flew into the net. Morninstar and his team quickly lowered the net, before carefully plucking them and placing them in bags.
The bats were measured, weighed and checked for illness. White Nose Syndrome is believed to have caused the death of millions of bats in North America and around the world. White Nose Syndrome affects the ability of bats to hibernate, eat and drink; ultimately causing sick bats to die of starvation. The illness is believed to have originated in Europe and West Asia.
“Our Canadian bats and North American bats are just not used to this so what's happening is it's affecting them much harder, it’s hitting them a lot harder,” said Pagé.
Tracking the bats will allow researchers to find out where bats go and spend most of their day, known as roosting. Discovering answers to the habitat and ecology of bats could help researchers learn more about how the bats are getting sick and dying over the winter.
The bats will be evicted from the home in the next few days; tunnels are being created allowing for their safe exit; they are prevented from re-entering the home.
“We don't know where they go. There's been no studies that I’m aware of that have found out where bats go when they've been evicted. So we don't even know, maybe they do die. Or maybe they move into somebody else's house,” said Morningstar.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is installing several bat houses outside the home and across the region; one four-chamber bat house is big enough for 300 bats at one time.
The CWF website has a tracking program designed to gather information about and ensure the safety of bats.