Halloween in the Flathead

This Halloween, it’s all about bats for the Flathead Wild team. The results from our Bat Bioblitz are in, and we’re excited to share our findings with all of you. We’ve got video from the fieldstories in the media, and a full-length report to tell you what we’ve discovered. 

In July of 2014 Dr. Cori Lausen and her team of 10 bat biologists braved cold, dark nights in order to learn more about the bat populations in BC’s Flathead River Valley. We have known for a long time that the Flathead is an important habitat for diverse mix of plant and wildlife species, but a formal inventory of bats in the region had never been taken in the area. This changed when Dr. Lausen and her team spent four nights capturing, surveying and releasing bats in the Flathead. 

In the words of a Flathead team member who accompanied Dr. Lausen’s group, “to catch a bat you have to think link bat.” And that’s exactly what Dr. Lausen’s team did, setting up nets in the forests, rivers and caves of the Flathead, guided only by headlamps and moonlight. 

Out of the 11 bat species scientists believed may live in the Flathead, 10 were captured or detected by the team. Two of the species identified, the little brown miotis and the northern miotis, are endangered at a national level. A Hoary bat – the largest bat in Canada – was also caught in the Flathead for the first time on record! 

Findings from the bioblitz may also help scientists understand how Flathead bats may be affected by white nose syndrome, a fungal disease currently killing bats in Eastern Northern America, and which is expected to make its way to the prairies eventually. 

While there are few things scarier than a disease that threatens an entire species, currently bats in the Flathead have not been affected by the white nose syndrome. And a diverse cross-section of bat species can now be officially added to the long list of reasons why the Flathead is so special. 

So when you think of our spooky, flying friends this Halloween, think of the Flathead, the celebrate the new-found knowledge about the bat populations there.  

Thank you, and Happy Halloween! 

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