North American Bat Monitoring Program: Williston Expansion
The North American Bat Monitoring Program is a multi-national, multi-agency coordinated bat monitoring program. It uses standardized protocols to gather data to assess population status and trends, inform responses to stressors, and sustain viable populations.
Data will be gathered from areas including the Williston Reservoir Watershed—specific locations to be determined—an area where information is lacking. The project also represents an opportunity for interested First Nations to learn bat monitoring skills, use specialized tools, and contribute to bat conservation on both a local and continental scale.
Update: Indigenous knowledge helps identify locations for bat monitoring
The project has expanded the North American bat monitoring network with three new grid cells with the help of Tsay Keh Dene, Kwadacha, and Saulteau First Nations. Each 10 km x 10 km cell is in a previously unsampled area of the province. The Nations collaborated on the location of the cells, the temporary placement of four bat detectors within each cell, and conducted monitoring within each Nation’s traditional territory. All the data collected will be shared with the Province of B.C. and the NABat program. The presence of at-risk northern myotis was confirmed in both the Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nations’ territories.
Final Report: Executive Summary
The main objective of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada’s (WCSC) North American Bat Monitoring (NABat) program in BC is to establish a robust baseline of bat presence and activity data to enable the quantitative evaluation of the impacts of stressors, such as White-nose Syndrome (WNS), habitat loss, and fatalities to migratory tree bats from wind energy projects. It is critical that we collect this data across BC immediately given the recent confirmations of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the invasive fungus responsible for WNS, in southern BC and Alberta, and the recent COSEWIC assessment of “endangered” for our three species of migratory tree bats (Eastern Red, Hoary, and Silver-haired Bat). Five of the eight bat species that occur in the Peace Region of BC have either been listed or assessed as endangered and there is a federal recovery strategy in place for two of these, Little Brown and Northern Myotis.
Our proposal addresses the FWCP Peace Region Priority Level 2 Action PEA.UPD.SO3.RI.05 “Research bat populations, distribution, and identify important habitat features” and the secondary Level 2 Action PEA.CRE.SO5.RI.12 “Conduct stewardship and education related toaquatic and terrestrial conservation” by building, maintaining, and improving relationships with Indigenous Nations and local stakeholders that support conservation and sustainable use projects in the FWCP’s Peace Region.
In the first year of WCSC’s NABat Williston expansion project, we accomplished all statedmilestones. We expanded our monitoring network by establishing three new NABat grid cells with partner First Nations (Tsay Keh Dene, Kwadacha, and Saulteau) in unsampled areas of the province. We collaborated with our First Nation partners to select grid cells, detector locations, and conduct the first year of monitoring within each Nation’s traditional territory.
Four bat detectors were deployed to passively record bat activity in each 10 km x 10 km grid cellfor a period of seven nights. Two driving transects were completed in each grid cell during the seven-night monitoring period. Classification of the collected acoustic data was completed in winter 2023 in conjunction with all other provincial data collected for the NABat program, following our established NABat processing protocols. All data collected through this expansion project have been incorporated into the provincial (SPI) and North American NABat (BPD) databases.
In the process of establishing these grid cells, we conducted community engagement, knowledge sharing, and capacity building activities with partner nations. Engagement began upon project inception as we presented NABat monitoring objectives and methods to project partners. We delivered additional formal and informal presentations within the partner communities and provided on-the-ground training to field assistants from each. First Nations Land Guardians and community members took part in all field activities associated with this project.
Opportunistic bat trapping in Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nations territories to confirm the presence of Northern Myotis also provided additional outreach opportunities for Land Guardians, technicians, and community members.