Keep an eye out for bats in your well, say P.E.I. scientists

Bats in your belfry? Not so good. Bats in your well? That's something important, and researchers want you to report it, all in the name of protecting P.E.I.'s bat population.

Old wells make good spots for hibernation, scientists keeping track of bats in wake of white-nose syndrome

Scientists want to know where bats are hibernating, in case a treatment is developed for white-nose syndrome. (Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation/AP)

Bat scientists on P.E.I. want Islanders to keep an eye out for bats that might be hibernating in their wells.

Two old wells on the Island have been identified as places where bats are already hibernating, one near East Point, and the other in the Bonshaw area.

The wells are dried up, and located on old properties.

Researchers suspect bats are hibernating in more old wells on the Island, and that information could help bats suffering from white-nose syndrome in the future.

"These wells are basically just holes in the ground, and a lot of them have been forgotten about," said Jordi Segers, a bat researcher at the Atlantic Veterinary College.

Old wells make excellent spots for bat populations to colonize, and researcher Jordi Segers says they should be encouraged to hibernate there. (Mary-Anne Collis)
"So homeowners who have a well on their property or even people who just know of wells anywhere on provincial land, if they can report these wells to the provincial Fish and Wildlife Department, especially if they've seen bats around there, that's very important information for us."

The province used to fill old wells with cement, but has stopped that practice in favour of putting a structure over it to prevent people from falling in, but one that lets bats go in and out.

Segers said that will encourage more bats to use old wells as a place for hibernation, which he feels are a good habitat for them.

If a treatment for white-nose syndrome is found, he said, it will be useful to know where bats are hibernating so they can apply the treatment.

White-nose syndrome has killed roughly six million bats in Canada and the United States.