Gespeg and Contact Environnement Initiate Recovery Activities for Species at Risk Bats

Contact Environment the local non-profit group responsible for confirming white-nose syndrome in the region continues the crusade to help species at risk bats and has recently partnered with the Mic Mac Nation of Gespeg on an initiative called SOS Bats. The collaboration, funded by the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk is designed to collect data to assist in filling the knowledge gaps outlined in the federal recovery strategy and will also contribute to education and awareness by producing materials and activities at a local level. A The First Nations community Gespeg is enthusiastic about the new project in the endangered species field and especially happy that local youth will have opportunities to be part of a larger initiative promoting a healthier environment. One aspect of the project involves developing a youth group that will allow native and non-native youth to work together to link Traditional Ecological Knowledge and science and have a unified voice at the local provincial and federal levels.

‘Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), and Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) are small, insectivorous species of the Family Vespertilionidae. The three species were emergency listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2014 because of sudden and dramatic declines across the eastern portions of the ranges of Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis, and throughout the entire Canadian range of Tri-colored Bat. These declines are the direct result of white-nose syndrome (WNS).’ Species at Risk Public Registry’

White nose syndrome spreads at approximately 200 to 250 km per year (COSEWIC 2013) and

‘Between 5.7 and 6.7 million bats, of several species, but mainly Little Brown Myotis, are estimated to have died in the last 6 years in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. A recovery strategy is being implemented, but public awareness is a key lacking component in saving this species. In addition to the threat of white nose syndrome misguided exclusion practices and prevalent fear based perceptions within the general population are adding to the already precarious state of bat populations. SOS Bats is working within local schools to send a more positive message concerning bats, and in the effort to change public opinion are also building an awareness campaign which will become more and more visible in the coming weeks. The goal is to create a wave of knowledge that sweeps across the region and country faster than white- nose syndrome. Dylan Clark species at risk technician in the SOS Bats program admits that, ’it is hard to change what people believe about bats but if we want to save the species we have to start with awareness.’

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative and the National White Nose Syndrome Scientific Program coordinated by Jordi Segers is asking citizens to be on the lookout and report any unusual bat mortality during the white-nose surveillance period from November to April. To report a bat exhibiting unusual behaviour including flying in daylight hours or to signal dead bats visit the Contact Environment website or call 581 887 2763.

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