Big brown bat rescue gains importance with fragile population
White-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations in Eastern Canada, including New Brunswick
The rescue of a big brown bat that was woken out its winter hibernation is taking on a higher degree of importance because of the fragile bat population in the province.
The bat was taken to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute in Cookville, N.B., after its hibernation was disturbed during attic renovations in a Fredericton home.
Pam Novak, the co-founder of the wildlife institute, said the bat weighed only 13 grams when it arrived at the institute, when most of the species are about 18 grams.
Aside from being underweight, Novak said it appeared to be in good condition.
At this point every bat is going to matter.- Pam Novak, Atlantic Wildlife Institute
“This one doesn’t appear to be showing the nasty white-nose syndrome that is affecting our bat population so horribly,” she said.
The syndrome has decimated the populations of little brown bats, northern myotis and tri-coloured bats in Eastern Canada.
In New Brunswick, it's estimated about 99 per cent of little brown bats have died.
The syndrome was first documented in New York in the winter of 2006, the disease surfaced in Canada in 2010. It has since been confirmed in 25 U.S. states and in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
The disease is caused by a fungus that grows over the bats' faces while they hibernate in winter.
The fungus grows in cold weather, and it hits while bats are most vulnerable, hibernating in caves and old mines through the winter.
Novak said the provincial government did the right thing by transporting the bat to her institute, even though big brown bat species is not one of the ones being hit hard by the white-nose syndrome.
“At this point every bat is going to matter,” she said.
“It is important that if we do get these kinds of animals in [the institute] to really treat them as a priority so that hopefully we can get them back out,” she said.
Novak said she is hand feeding the bat to try and increase its weight.