Bat hotels open for business in Kluane

Kluane National Park is now offering new overnight accommodations - specifically for bats. The nocturnal creatures have been spending their springs roosting.

Kluane National Park is now offering new overnight accommodations – specifically for bats.

The nocturnal creatures have been spending their springs roosting in the attic of the Parks Canada administration building. To avoid displacing the bats with some planned renovations, conservation officers decided to build new homes – rectangular boxes, about two feet wide and three feet long.

“We recognize that they play an important role in our ecosystem as a major control insect,” said Craig McKinnon, a resource conservation manager at Kluane National Park.

Bats eat a lot of mosquitoes and other bugs. According to figures from Yukon Environment, a colony of 100 Little Brown bats can eat about 20 kilograms of insects in four months.

Bats often return to familiar places, said McKinnon. While adopting a new home, such as the newly-installed bats hotels, can require a couple of years, the tiny flying mammals have already taken up one of the hotels.

“We’ve already found bats droppings under one of the hotels, that’s indicating there is a number of them using it,” said McKinnon.

The bat hotels are painted black and placed in the direct sun, “because bats need warmth,” said McKinnon.

Openings on the box allow access to four chambers inside. Each has grooves on the ceiling to allow the bats to roost, hanging upside-down by their claws.

While the white-nose fungus has taken out a significant part of eastern Canada’s bat population, the Yukon bat population is still doing well.

In the Yukon, the biggest threat the bat population faces is habitat loss, said Carrie McClelland, a wildlife viewing biologist at the Environment Department.

“They require wetland and they eat mosquitoes, they need nice places where they can live and roost,” she said.

Like all wild animals, bats can carry some disease, she said, recommending that people use gloves or shovel if they find an injured bat.

“They have lots of teeth and they will use them for sure,” she said.

People interested in having bats around their house – given their hunger for mosquitoes and other summer pests – can find bat hotels plans on the Yukon Environment website. They can also attend the “Going Batty” event on August 7 organized by the Environment Department, and go for a late-night walk to Chadburn Lake bat house to see bats flying.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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