Unfortunately, resident populations of bats have become increasingly at risk in Nova Scotia due to the spread of White-nose Syndrome (WNS). It is spread through bat-to-bat contact and arrived in Nova Scotia in 2010/2011 and has caused massive population declines. White-nose syndrome is caused by a fungus, which invades the body of bats while they overwinter in caves, and causes the bats to awaken and burn their fat stores resulting in death by starvation or hypothermia.
Three species of bats are currently considered ‘Endangered’ in Nova Scotia. They are the Little Brown Bat (aka Little Brown Myotis), Northern Long-eared (aka Northern Myotis), and the Tri-colored Bat (Eastern Pipistrelle). They are all small bats (6-10 cm long) with wingspans between 22-27 cm. Identification to species is often difficult. Other migratory species of bats in Nova Scotia do not yet appear to be affected by White-nose Syndrome.
Resident species overwinter in
Nova Scotia by hibernating in cold, humid caves or abandoned mines. During the spring, summer and fall, bats will use buildings, natural hollows, woodpiles etc. as day roosts and nursery areas. In the summer bats are most active at dusk and night, inhabiting and feeding for flying insects over a wide variety of habitats including forests, forest edges, cropland, hayfields, lakes and waterways.
For both the Little Brown Bat and Northern Brown Bat, females form maternity colonies where they give birth and raise pups, and males are mostly solitary. Tri-colored bats roost in large clumps of Old Man’s Beard lichen.
How You Can Help:
Natural cavities and hollows as well as buildings provide important day roosts and nurseries. Practice uneven age management in woodlots (leaving older trees with cavities), and, where safe, consider leaving old, abandoned buildings standing as potential roosting/nursery sites. You can install bat boxes on your property to give them a safe place to roost
Report current and historical bat sightings.
Dispel negative myths about bats and spread the word on how to help.
Nova Scotia Bat Conservation work to maintain a healthy bat population in NS: www.batconservation.ca
Take a look at the bat project based at the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute.
Bat Conservation International also has more information on bats along with plans to build bat boxes and other ideas to encourage bats on to your farm.