Qalipu First Nation seeks volunteers to count N.L. bats and help with research

Qalipu First Nation is looking for people to help collect data on Newfoundland and Labrador's bat colonies.  (Jordi Segers - image credit)
Qalipu First Nation is looking for people to help collect data on Newfoundland and Labrador's bat colonies. (Jordi Segers - image credit)
Jordi Segers
Jordi Segers

Qalipu First Nation has put out the bat signal and it's looking for volunteers who aren't afraid of the dark to help with the band's research on Newfoundland and Labrador's bat populations.

Alyssa Hunter, Qalipu's manager of environment and natural resources, says the group is looking for volunteers to conduct a colony count and survey.

"Really we're relying on individuals themselves to highlight these areas for us," she said.

"For example, if you have a cabin, or a bard or a shed on your property where you're noticing bats roosting, you would just reach out to [me] and we would identify that spot as a good site for a survey."

About 30 minutes before sunset is the best time for bat sightings, Hunter said, as the nocturnal hunter leaves its roost.

Qalipu First Nation has been conducting bat research for four years.

Hunter said they're casting a wider net to get a better sense of what's out there and have additional data for the data pool.

Jordi Segers
Jordi Segers

N.L. is home to little brown myotis — or little brown bat — and northern brown myotis colonies. Both are listed under Newfoundland and Labrador's Endangered Species Act.

"We have four sites that we're working on right now. One is in the Port au Port area, one in the Robinson's area, one in the Bishop Falls area and one in the Botwood area," said Hunter.

"But we've left it really open because whatever we get would contribute to the data we report on."

Hunter said the province's bat population is declining due to several factors, the biggest on the radar being white nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has decimated bat colonies across North America.

She said for decisions to be made to protect the species, bat advocates first need the data, including what species are present and how the colonies are faring.

"This type of work that we're asking people to do, there's no risk to them. You sit down with a pen and a paper. I would provide the data sheet," Hunter said.

"It's all really easy, you're literally just counting the bats that are exiting and entering the building. If you keep a safe distance, they're not going to bother you."

Interested volunteers can contact Hunter. She said those who aren't interested in surveying can simply call to offer tips to her office.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador